Friday, 18 August 2017

Am I Normal Yet? - Holly Bourne

'Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. "Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I'm so OCD."
NO YOU'RE FUCKING NOT.
"Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack."
NO YOU FUCKING DIDN'T.
"I'm so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar."
SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE."'


Hello!

I'm back with a fitting post in the Hel-Ya! aftermath; young adult, of course!

Oh, and if you've somehow missed it, I made a book-focused instagram @skiesandfairytales which you can totally check out if you don't get enough of my day-to-day book ramblings in your life yet. It's pretty amazing, of course. Definitely recommend.

Anyway! New read; Holly Bourne's Am I Normal Yet? As you can see, I read the Finnish edition ('Am I Quite Normal?') published by Gummerus, and I felt it was a top-notch translation.

Even though I had heard many good things about this book, I was honestly a bit discouraged to the experience by the cover. I thought it hinted that the book was for readers younger than myself. Instead, this book ended up being one of the brightest YA reads yet this year. Whoops. Thankfully I won this in a Hel-Ya! raffle so I wanted to read it, if nothing else then to be polite.

This is the story of Evie, a 16 year old recovering from OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder and trying to make a life of being something else than the girl who went mental. She has made actual friends but is worried of telling them of her condition, because she fears they might not understand it. And then there's the strange world of dating, which is enough to make anyone lose their mind... not to mention the bad thoughts that will never leave her alone.

This book deals with really important things: Evie and her friends found the Spinster Club, in which they celebrate their friendship and talk about feminist topics. Evie's OCD is also handled very delicately; it's not romanticised or cool, and Evie is constantly struggling with it. Am I Normal Yet? also talks about many feminist theories and ideas, and the stigma on mental health, as well as how people talk about them casually, without quite realising the magnitude of actually having one. It's a really tasteful depiction of a very serious illness.

Evie and her friends also date all sorts of guys a girl might date in her teenage years: from extremely sleazy to maybe even too kind for their own good, and everything in between. It also stresses the importance of friends and how they can and should be there for you. I really like Evie, Amber and Lottie, and I'm thrilled that in the second and third book of the series, the other two get to be in the limelight.

I'm really excited to read the rest of these books. The second part: How Hard Can Love Be? was recently given a Finnish translation, so hopefully I can get a matching set of these. Then again, I can't promise I'll be able to wait for the third part to get a Finnish translation. I could hardly put this book down after I started it.

I want to give this a 5/5. I enjoyed reading it immensely, and I thought it dealt with very important topics. I have no complaints about it, really. I could mostly tell where the plot was headed, but I didn't even mind that. It was a really good read. 

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 20: A book about a disabled or a seriously ill person! Because Evie is certainly seriously ill and I think it's important to recognise that mental illnesses are a really serious thing.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Helsinki Young Adult Literature Convention - Hel-YA!

Heyo!
Here's my loot from today! *-* I'm very excited and probably confused a volunteer when we asked to take a poster home but two of them got a loving home with me (not only as a background for pictures):


I'm back! Actually I'm literally back, it being almost midnight and I'm just writing down some thoughts of Hel-Ya, from which myself and Daniel just returned from.

Anyway. Hel-Ya's idea was to have a convention for ya-books because for some reason (judging by the big crowd present, the reason isn't disinterest!) there hasn't been a convention for that yet in Finland. The setting, a restaurant called Lämpö ('Warmth') in Sörnäinen, Helsinki.

The event included five panels: 

'In the Beginning, There Was a Story: How Story Worlds Are Built' with Mintie Das, Emmi Itäranta, Salla Simukka, Johanna Valkama and Erika Vik. This was, as the name suggests, in English, and it was a ton of fun! The panelists were asked about the worldbuilding in their books, and all of them had different ways of making their stories happen, as well as whether it started with the characters or the story... Notes and whether or not they make them, where their characters come from, that sort of stuff. Also, Salla Simukka brought up how annoying it is that we talk about 'strong female characters', instead of, you know, just characters that are well-written. Really important.



'Tytöille, Pojille, Muille. Kuka kirjoittaa ja kenelle?' ('For Girls, For Boys, For Others. Who's Writing and for Whom?') with Antti Halme, Siri Kolu, Aki Parhamaa, Anders Vacklin and Elina Rouhiainen. This sparked some important debate about how female main characters can and should be relatable for boys as well, and vice versa. Even though the current Finnish YA literature is currently mostly written by females, it's not only for them.

'Kuinka minusta tuli (ya-)kirjailija' ('How I Became a (YA) Author') with Katri Alatalo, Juuli Niemi and Siri Kolu. This was very interesting since the authors again had different paths to their career, and I bet many people in the audience were hoping to follow in their footsteps. Also something I remember Siri Kolu saying: 'We always hear how many books get declined, but I think we should focus on the message that a couple of them do get through!' So don't get discouraged, you.

'Kysy kustantamoilta!' ('Ask the Publishers!'), represented by Kaiken Enterntainment, WSOY, Gummerus and Otava, covering pretty much all of the bigger Finnish publisher companies. I found this to be quite important, since the publishers make things happen but are rarely in the foreground themselves. (In Finnish we call this 'takapiru', or a background devil...) There was cool discussion about how cover art is chosen, how books are picked up for a translation, what to do if you've made big changes to your original (declined) novel... Also, don't put down your own work when sending it to the publisher! That does not make anyone excited about it.

'All the Feels: What Makes YA a Great Genre' by Mintie Das, Emmi Itäranta, Juuli Niemi, Elina Rouhiainen, Salla Simukka and Salla Juntunen. Really important discussions about, among other things, sex scenes in YA, LGBT representation and how gay sex is somehow considered 'more explicit'. The participants also mentioned what they'd like to see in the future for YA: even more diverse stories (from Mintie Das: "I don't want to be a black astronaut, I want to be the astronaut!"), different sexual identities and different stories for these people, diverse families... I suppose this is a neverending road, but we've gotten so far already.

'Unien kieltä: Fantasia tänään' ('The Language of Dreams: Fantasy Today') by Katri Alatalo, Sini Helminen, Elina Pitkäkangas, Erika Vik and Nea Ojala. Really cool stuff about why the authors ended up writing fantasy (for some to escape reality, for some to get closer to it), what makes fantasy a great genre (apologies for the pun), et cetera. 

There was also a Skype interview with Holly Bourne, who wrote The Spinster Club series (I'm reading 'Am I Normal Yet?' at the moment!). That was really cool but unfortunately suffered from some technical difficulties, her audio breaking up and making it near impossible to follow at times. Especially since she's such a big, international author (and really down to earth, based on what I could hear!), this was a real shame. Her tip for aspiring authors? Just write. I think that's a good one.



Also, there were greetings from authors abroad, such as Estelle Maskame of DIMILY, which was cool. One of them however was very impersonal and short, and I thought it wasn't maybe worth the effort... Shame.

Also, there was a casual publishing party for Elina Rouhiainen's book Muistojenlukija ('Reader of Memories') after all of this but I must admit we kind of drifted back home soon after the official end. Six hours of mostly non-stop happening kind of took a toll on both of us. I did buy the book and get it signed, though!

Speaking of signings, I got all the books pictured above signed (except for The Hate U Give, DIMILY and Et kävele yksin), as well as five I already owned. I'll probably be showing you the signatures as I review the books because I'm extremely proud of them. The authors were all so nice I just can't believe any of that actually happened!

A quick pros/cons/suggestions to wrap this up (because I'm sleepy!)

+ Great authors! I can't fully emphasise but these were the creme de la creme of Finnish ya authors and I was starstruck *-*
+ Free stuff! My friends know this is the way to my heart. Especially the pre-publish Finnish translation of The Hate U Give was an awesome gift to the first 100.
+ Well-organised...

- ...But it could have been better still. Holly Bourne's interview quality, the way it was (not) resolved, all the panels running a bit long, restaurant Heat getting VERY, well, Heaty.
- With the Flow Festival works, the location was incredibly difficult to find, even with a picture guide on Facebook.
- I don't think one of the author showed up for her given signing time, so maybe better information in both directions about that?

* Next time I'd love to have Finnish art makers/bookish craftspeople selling their stuff at the event! I'd love to support those local talents...
* More time between the panels could help, not only with the running too long thing, but also with the fact that it did get a bit tiring with the quickfire schelude.
* Better guidance to the area.
* Would have loved (for Daniel) to be able to buy some books in English as well!

In general, though, myself and Daniel both loved the event and I can't wait to go again (next year please please please happen again <3)! You can kind of expect me to be reading these books for the better part of the year about to come...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

''Can I get you a drink?' the man yelled, over the top of the next song. I wondered whether the DJ had ever considered introducing a five-minute break between records, to allow people to go to the bar or the lavatory in peace. Perhaps I should suggest that to him later.
'No, thank you,' I said. 'I don't want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I'm simply not interested in spending two drinks' worth of time with you.'' 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is Gail Honeyman's debut work. It's a very heartfelt, funny and sad story about a young woman who's good at going through the movements of life, but less so at actually living. She's very sharp but hasn't been able to make friends, and an event from her childhood has caused her to have a strained relationship with her mother. She makes an acquintance in a colleague called Raymond, and things start to seem better for her when she meets someone she feels she could love. She changes her wardrobe and starts working on her social skills. Of course, changing your whole life is never really that easy.

There's a lot of real problems in this book. It talks a lot about loneliness and what it does to a person, how you can be lonely even when in a crowd,  and how difficult it can be to live when you're so used to just surviving your days. It talks about what it's like to not be in touch with your family or even other people in general. When your life passes you by but you don't know how to stop it. Eleanor feels deeply relatable even though I don't actually share most of her life experiences.

Eleanor is great as a character. As you can see from my chosen quote, she's very sharp and funny without even meaning to be, and her inner dialogue is such a pleasure to read. I loved it and I loved her. Raymond is also great, he's late when Eleanor is early, messy when she's clean... you get the idea. They make a wonderful duo, and the dynamic of their friendship is great. Also so many points for the fact that Eleanor's life isn't suddenly made so much better by her falling in love and all her problems disappearing. That's all too common in books like this, and it makes people think depression and whatnot other mental problems are gone just like that.

Even though I liked this, I can't shake the feeling this book should've been around 100 pages shorter (it stands at 385 or so as it is). I saw a really good discussion about this in a Facebook group a couple of days ago, actually. It was mentioned that it's important not to cut 'day to day' life from your book because it's equally as important as what's happening. I'd like to argue that a book doesn't feel too long (case in point: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or any of the others, really) if it's good enough. With this one though, sometimes I was dreadfully bored, in between the actual events. I think it could have been more concise.

I also saw the ending coming many miles away, though it had one twist I hadn't expected. About the twist (no spoilers though): some people say they didn't like it, but to me it really worked. Hm. To each their own, to each their own.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 16: A book which has got some award abroad. It was actually difficult finding a category for this, am I nearing the end yet?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

'"He must have known I'd want to leave you."
"No, he must have known you would always want to come back."'


Heyo!

What's life now? I don't know. I finished the Harry Potter series last week. This was the last one. And honestly, now that I've read them all, it feels like there might actually not be another series like this for a long time. A series that is this long and of this good of a quality, in which every part is tied to the others so skillfully. Everything comes together really neatly, and this is an excellent ending to the series. It's shaped the way we view young adult books, and it's done that for a reason. When The Hunger Games came out, it was 'for fans of Harry Potter' just based on the fact that it was a series for young people who enjoy quality. Now everything is for the fans of The Hunger Games.

I won't include spoilers in this post, but I think I'll make a compilation spoiler thoughts post for what I thought of all the books. Sometime this week maybe? Or next week. Something like that.

Anyway, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and the last book in the series. This is the book it all comes down to; horcruxes, hallows and The Battle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter must kill Lord Voldemort, for he is the only one who can. That makes it sound like there's only one or two things going on in this book, but there's actually a lot more to it.

For a series that was originally marketed for children, this last part is very dark. You've come to like and know these characters, so this war actually feels brutal and the outcome doesn't come without casualties. Some of them really made me sad. I'm sure everyone who's gone through this whole journey feels the pain and the sacrifice.

What can I say about this, really? I loved the first part (you know, the one that pretty much ends with my chosen quote), and the latter half, even though it was very awful, I enjoyed immensely as well. One of my favourite things in this book is also the way they use Expelliarmus. I thought that was incredibly smart and cool, and fitting of Harry's character. Also, like Half-Blood Prince, this book also gave more backstory to Snape and also Dumbledore. I enjoyed that.

What I didn't like in this book is the epilogue. It simply wasn't enough. For this series with hundreds of characters, this sort of ending just felt all too small. Also, the new characters introduced didn't get enough time to get my affections... And The Cursed Child came so much later, I feel like my point still stands. I know all of these characters got a lot of conclusion over on Pottermore, but it just doesn't feel as real to me since it wasn't in the actual book. It's kind of a shame, really. There's so much more to explore here and we get Fantastic Beasts instead?

Regardless, I can't give this book anything but 5/5, even if the ending was a bit disappointing. It's still one of the best series perhaps ever written, and this was the ending it deserved, even if the epilogue wasn't.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 21: A hero story or a book about a brave person!

Hey, by the way - I bought Caraval for the Kindle as well since it was on sale for £0.99. I already want to read it again, this time in English. Maybe before part two comes out?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ruskeat Tytöt - Koko Hubara

'Minun tarinani ei ole se, kun ohikulkijat vetelevät minua silmäripsistä, kun ihmiset koskettelevat kyselemättä hiuksiani, ja kertovat minulle kuinka olen manteli ja maitokahvi ja mokkalatte ja vadelmasuklaa ja seepra ja panda ja hevonen ja apina ja kookospähkinä ja Oreo-keksi.'

'My story is not how passersby pull my eyelashes, when people touch my hair without asking and tell me how I'm an almond and coffee with milk and a mocha latte and raspberry chocolate and a zebra and a panda and a horse and a monkey and a coconut and an Oreo.' 


Hello again!

This is the first book I actually reserved from the local library. I queued for it for nearly two months and I was lucky to still get it while I'm here for the summer. That I will allow to speak volumes of how much I wanted to read it. I would have happily queued for this for two years, if I needed to.

I don't know where I should start in talking about this. There's so much I want to say, because everything in this book is important and the only way I'll get through it all is by writing the book again, here. I'll try my best to say what matters the most. Bear with me, please.

Let me just tell you up front that Ruskeat Tytöt ('Brown Girls') is a very personal work, one born out of necessity. The author wrote this book because there wasn't a work like it when she needed one in her life. She wrote it because there's not enough representation of people like her; girls who have lived in Finland her whole life but are the 'wrong' colour and therefore are treated like strangers.

This book talks about both racism and feminism, hence the two parts of the name. More accurately, it's about intersectional feminism; the idea that various aspects of our lives affect us at the same time. As in, the author's is both a girl and brown at all times, and both of these things make her often invisible in the media and affect how other people view her.

The author Koko Hubara is also the founder of Ruskeat Tytöt, the first Finnish 'from us to us' media for brown girls. There's some information about it in English here if you're interested. It matters because the representations given to us in the media are always coloured by whether or not the author understands the implications of race in their work. We white people don't always think about that, because we don't grow up constantly thinking about our own whiteness in a world where we perceive it to be the norm. I get that now, having read this book.

The book is divided into chapters about different subjects; the way girls are (and black girls aren't) portayed in media, 30 facts about Yemen, sexual violence is sexual violence, the way the collection of statistics in Finland makes brown girls seem nonexistent. They're all important things, and I think it's vital that we acknowledge them as problems and maybe even some as solutions. Therefore I'd like to suggest that reading this is almost as important even if you're not a Brown Girl. I say 'almost as' because to a Brown Girl this could be a lifeline, while to me it's something I want to make a change in. 

'Näen itseni näköisiä ihmisiä suomalaisessa mediassa yleensä vain silloin, kun aiheena ovat turvapaikanhakijat, islamisaatio, terrorismi, tyttöjen ympärileikkauset, raiskaukset ja muut suututtavat tragediat, samaan aikaan kun valkoisilla ihmisillä on nähtävänään ja kulutettavanaan esitystapoja enemmän kuin taivaalla on tähtiä.'

'I see people that look like me in Finnish media usually only when the topics are asylum seekers, islamisation, terrorism, the circumcision of girls, rapes and other tragedies to make you angry, meanwhile white people have ways of representation to use and to spend more than there are stars in the sky.'

I also want to tell you that the language of this book is amazing; it's beautiful and thoughtful and deeply touching. It's not amazing 'for a brown person' or anything like that (I feel like mentioning this is important just in case anyone thought anything different); it's absolutely gorgeous for any person and I wish I could formulate my thoughts half as well. It's one of the best-written books I'll read this year.

I decided, after thinking about it for a couple of days, to rate this 4/5. It's because it sometimes jars a bit, which isn't an experience Just because I didn't give this a full 5/5 doesn't mean that I don't think this is one of the most important books I will read this year. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't read it no matter who you are or where you are, regardless of the constraints of your colour or gender or preconceptions. Of course, the language can be a problem, but I'm sure Brown Girls feel these things no matter where they are. And us White Girls and Boys can always be better. Also, this is a book I'll buy for my own shelf without any qualms when I see it. I want to have a copy of it to give to my friends to read.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 42: A debut book!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Caraval - Stephanie Garber

'Do you always focus on what you're giving up, rather than what you'll be gaining? Some things are worth pursuit regardless of the cost.'


This book came out earlier this year and became a huge thing pretty much immediately and was translated to 25 languages quicker than a heartbeat. So naturally when I saw it at the library, it felt like I should and I would read it no matter what.

This book has two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella (or just Tella), leave their home island and their cruel father for a magical game called Caraval. Tella, the adventurous and excited one, believes this could be their way out, but Scarlett believes her arranged marriage to a stranger will get her and her sister away from their father.

Caraval is a game Scarlett has heard many stories of, and in which you can't trust anything you hear. It's hosted by a man called Legend, who supposedly plays each game wearing a different face. You can't trust anything you hear in Caraval, and Scarlett has to wonder if the sailor who brought her there has ulterior motives too. And then things go from bad to worse when Tella gets kidnapped and whoever finds her will win the game... and a wish.

Scarlett was fairly likeable to me, and even though I wanted to slap some sense into her a couple of times, she still felt relatable. Same goes for Tella, even though the two of them were fairly night and day as far as sisters go. The side characters were okay but most of them would have been better if they had gotten more time and development.

'She wrapped her arms around Scarlett like only a sister can. Fiercely like a kitten that has just gotten its claws and wants to rip the whole world to shreds so that everything would turn out alright.'

The plot was surprisingly interesting and full of twists, and it gave me many wow moments throughout the story. I was impressed with that, because I thought beforehand that the plot would be where this book was going to trip itself up; becoming a dull copy of every 
other story like this. Turns out that wasn't actually the problem.

My knee-jerk reaction was to give this a full five stars, but today I've given it another thought and am starting to get annoyed with the general lack of worldbuilding (how gorgeous this would have been in a properly built world) and the few cop-outs it goes through instead of properly defining its own rules. It's actually something to say about how interesting the plot was that I ended up giving it four stars. Quite excited for the sequel, too. I'd be so happy if it expanded on the world of this, but I bet it'll be all too easy to just stick to the same formula as this book, since it's been so popular. Apparently we no longer care for worldbuilding in our 'high fantasy' books. Some of the plot twists towards the end also felt unpolished and weak, as if the author could no longer be bothered to write them out in full.

Also, there's a really odd thing where Scarlett sees emotions and colours, and it felt... weird. It didn't really fit in the tone of the book, and it wasn't explained until it had already been happening for some time. It didn't really add anything to this book, in my opinion.

Regardless, I enjoyed Caraval a lot and I'll be reading this series probably until the bitter end. The second book, coming out in 2018, is still untitled. (I hope it comes out sooooonnnn!)

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 49: A new book of 2017!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Rikki - Reija Glad

'Joskus äiti on niin kuin pieni ja Eeva sen äiti. Ja pieni äiti on ärsyttävä eikä halua pukea.'

'Sometimes mum is like small and Eeva its mum. And small mum is annoying and doesn't want to get dressed.'

Rikki ('Broken') is Reija Glad's first novel. It won third prize in a Robustos (the publisher who's published most of Siiri Enoranta's works and other stuff) miniature novel competition in 2015. I got this from the library's new stuff shelf and checked it out on Goodreads, where it has, as I write this, one rating of three stars, a golden middle road. I thought that was quite compelling - what does three mean to this one person? Also, the book is just shy of a hundred pages and I thought I could definitely give it another rating, maybe make the decision easier for someone else. Or something. Also, it sounded cool.

Anyway, this book is very unsettling at its heart. It's divided into short little chapters that each tell their own story of sorts. They're given creepy telltale names like 'Dad's Car', 'Bunny' and 'River'. The book itself is about a family, or more specifically the children of one, who grow up poor, with a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic, absent father. The book is from the point of view of one of the children, though the book never actually tells you which one. I do have my guess.

It's mostly written in short, meaningful sentences. The children witness things no child (or person) should and can't process them properly. Many things in this book are, indeed, broken. Their mother isn't able to take care of the kids because of her own problems, and the children in turn do their best but can't really lead normal and happy childhoods. The family is broken and their home town in Northern Finland seems fairly depressed at best.

This book was sort of disturbing in its desperation, but I like to think it also had tiny little whisps of hope, which are also alluded to in the back cover. I think I'll check out Glad's other works if she publishes more one day. (You can always dream, yes?) My only hope is that for a full length novel, the work would have more happiness as well. For a work of this length however, it worked quite well, even if it does feel like a bit too much sometimes. No one's supposed to live a life like this, though I think that was kind of the point too. I'd recommend this book and I quite enjoyed it, but I feel like it requires a specific sort of mindset so I'll just leave that up to you if you want to check it out. For me, it was absolutely worth the read. I hope more people check it out.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 26: A family story! Think the category is looking for a longer story but this was definitely about family so...

Friday, 14 July 2017

Eurooppalaiset unet - Emma Pulkkonen

Heyo!

Back with marathon number two book number two: another Finnish one, this time last year's Finlandia nominee (you might remember how Akvarelleja Engelin kaupungista was the winner, and I would be tempted to say rightfully so)

Eurooppalaiset unet ('European Dreams') felt, to me, like a café with a fancy exterior that tries to appeal to a more academically inclined crowd in the most expensive part of the city. When you step inside however, you come to realise that there's nothing that's really groundbreaking or worth your time in this faux-fancy establishment.

Now, the book isn't actually quite that bad. There's actual quality to it, just quality that somehow comes across as trying too hard and failing because of it.

The idea is that there's all these people (maybe eight or so, I lost count) around Europe who lead different lives with their own problems, but eventually most of their stories actually weave together to create a semblance of connection. Like, on the level that some character's brother's daughter is working with some other character 20 years later. And while I see that was supposed to be amazing to me, well... it felt more like that person could have been working with anyone else without it having any implications for their lives.

Also, it was, again, (check out Kissani Jugoslavia for more of this) a bit too artsy. Someone got this superpower of sorts (not much of a spoiler since it's on the back cover) which didn't make any sense to me and I never found out if it was real or not. It was odd in a story that otherwise felt real.

I really wanted to like this book. I thought that the idea was cool, but obviously I wanted some deeper connections than what this had. The stories themselves were quite good and even harrowing but my topmost feeling is disappointment and I can't really shake that. What with the EU and all (having 'European' in your title is bound to draw these comparisons), I wanted a book about how deeply we're all connected these days. This wasn't that book.

I don't have much else to say. I feel like this book didn't have much to say to me either.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 17: A book cover colours are blue and white!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen - Jaana Kapari-Jatta

'Suomentaja ei käännäkään sanoja vaan ajatuksia.'

'A Finnish translator doesn't, after all, translate words but thoughts.'


Heyo!


Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen ('Bubotuber and Pigwidgeon') was my reading marathon number two book number one - a book by the Finnish translator of Harry Potter on her perhaps biggest and probably most influential work to date; translating this beloved series from beginning to end (including The Cursed Child and other stuff like that too).

This book answers most of the questions the translator often gets asked: how do you translate all those names, how does the fame of the series feel, does she miss them now that it's fin(n)ished... And it's really quite interesting. Even though I've always comprehended that someone does indeed translate all of these books, I've never fully realised just how much work goes into it. I'll be sure to appreciate it more in the future and maybe even read more translated works.

It's clear from the way Kapari-Jatta talks about her work that she has a strong passion for it. The only book I've actually read with her translation (since I've happily read Harry Potters in English) is Holes by Louis Sachar. I would say that's a good translation as well. Pollomuhku talks very in depth (sometimes too much so) about the creative process of the translator as she attempts to understand the mind of the author and the complexities of the world they have created. She also really thought deep and hard about how to translate all those imaginary words while preserving their spirit. This is especially important since these books started out as children's books and you can't reasonably expect every Finnish child to know enough English to make the connections.

Another thing I thought was cool: translating hints. If you've read these books before, you'll probably know that J.K. Rowling adds a ton of hints in her books about what will happen in the future instalments. The translator talks about how the hints need to be of the same quality as originally - not more or less clear. It's another thing I've mostly taken for granted, translating these things skillfully, but they do take a lot of thought, especially in Rowling's case.

I might even have given this a five but sometimes it just trailed off a bit too much and repeated the same things many times. For a (by default Finnish skills are required) Harry Potter fan interested in languages I would recommend this without hesitation regardless!

Also something to appreciate: this cover was made by Mika Launis, who also made all the Finnish Harry Potter covers! I really like his work and I think these two people definitely made the Finnish editions of Harry Potter what they are.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in a category I've been dreading filling because it's so niche.... 25: A book where nobody dies! Yay!!!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Reading Marathon #2 (updating)

Heyo!

Reading marathon #2 of the summer is here today (8th of July) and as promised, I convinced Daniel to take part with me!

We started at 8PM today and will finish at 8PM tomorrow and I'll be updating our feels here a couple of times during the marathon!

22:58

Right now I'm reading Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen (a book on how the Harry Potters were translated into Finnish) by Jaana Kapari-Jatta and Daniel's reading The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'll probably finish that and then wrap up for today. [Daniel] After getting not so far into Kullervo I decided to return to the beginning as the dialect went over my head; second time round and the book is captivating me due to its poetic passages.

23:34

That's my book and the first 114 pages finished! Maybe good to wrap up for today? Daniel is still battling with the complicated names and stuff in Kullervo.

14:28

Started Eurooppalaiset unet ('European Dreams') by Emma Pulkkonen and read the first 50 pages. Kind of heavy to get into and jumps around a lot but I do enjoy it. [Daniel] Enjoying Kullervo hugely! As a Tolkien fan I expected I'd like it but its enjoyably poetic in the telling of the tale. Still rather heavy with sonnet-like passages.

16:19

Done 110 pages of this thing. I kind of really want to finish it today. There was a bit about a Somali refugee girl that was almost too difficult to read. Hope we never get back to that again. [Daniel] Finished the actual story part of the Kullervo and it was pretty amazing, definitely going to read Kalevala when I master Finnish! Currently reading the essays regarding the Kalevala by Tolkien and the forewords to the book.

19:03

Finished my book (179 pages) and feel wholly confused. What is life. It was a bit too weird for me, which is a real shame. Maybe would have benefited from being read one story at a time but I don't really think a great book should suffer from being read 'wrong'. Think I'll start a bit of Caraval by Stephanie Garber with the remaining time. [Daniel] Still reading the essays and notes associated with Kullervo. I'm developing a new sense to Tolkien and also a greater understanding of Kalevala and how it influenced his further works.

Overview

Me:
Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen (114 pages, partly)
Eurooppalaiset unet (179 pages, complete)
Caraval (64 pages, partly)
Total of 357 pages

Daniel:
The Story of Kullervo (158 pages, partly)
Total of 158 pages


Not too shabby with 515 pages between us! Definitely happy I now have 2/3 of the library books I loaned for this actually read and Caraval too seemed rather exciting.

I nearly read the book! I only have the foreword to finish off. For my first marathon I am very happy as this was indeed a very heavy book
to read with lots of dialect, notes, sources and references. Despite the heaviness this was a poetic and beautiful book. I hope to finish two books for our next marathon!