Summer vacation went by so quickly, even though the days felt really slow and relaxing. I would have been happy with one more week of vacation, but it’s really nice to be back to (remote) work and see everyone in video calls.
Since this summer vacation was less about traveling and events, there was plenty time to enjoy sunshine and read outside. It’s almost September now, which means that my favorite season of autumn/winter/Christmas preparation is coming up and reading outside will change to curling up inside with a pile of books, cups of tea and mulled wine and woolen socks. I love autumn and welcome the change of season. ❤
Here are the books I read during summer staycation. Some I liked and some left me disappointed.
Another one of the Royal Spyness Mystery series. I really enjoy this early 1900s British mystery series but this 13th one was a bit of a disappointment. The setting is certainly very different compared to the previous books: Colonial Kenya and the area called The Happy Valley which was full of British aristocrats enjoying a very hedonistic and scandalous life (parties, spouse swapping, drugs). If I didn’t know this was a real thing from actual history, I’d have said this was quite an overkill for a setting but this place actually existed less than a hundred years ago.
Our main couple is again thrown into solving a murder mystery and while the murderer is found out, there were other matters that were left unmentioned or unsolved so it left quite an unsatisfying feeling at the end of the book. The ending felt a bit rushed, or incomplete. Perhaps the next book will provide some more answers. I hope so because this is one of my favorite historical, cozy mystery series!
I read the Finish edition of Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster. My birth year is 1986 and it has always been mentioned with the memory of Chernobyl. I obviously don’t have any memory of that time, so it was really interesting to read about the event that defined the year of my birth. The whole tragedy is horrible to begin with, and hearing the memories and stories of the people who lived through the Chernobyl disaster was very touching. This book was very heavy to read, with good reason, so I think that I needed the lightness of summer vacation to get through it. Especially with the pandemic still ongoing, I don’t think I could’ve read this books during early spring when the pandemic really started.
Voices from Chernobyl gives a painful view to the Chernobyl disaster, how it affected people long after and also what the circumstances were back then when The Soviet Union was still existing. I am too young to remember what the world was like back then so it seems bizarre how different it has been during my lifetime. I recommend reading this book if you are in the mood for heavy and sad stories that seem like they should be fiction but are real instead.
Huipputuloiset is a non-fiction book about the richest permille of the Finnish people. It’s a collection of anonymous interviews where we find out what the richest of us really think about money, work and our society.
At first this book was an interesting peek into the lives of people who have it all. Those who inherit their fortune have actual training programmes for their young heirs so they know how to handle and keep the money, the CEOs are like athletes with their discipline in life, the Entrepreneurs work hard and some are rewarded with the exit where they sell their companies for huge amounts of money. Some interesting details were revealed, but as I read through the book, there were less surprising facts and more of what you might expect: taxes are too high for those who have so much wealth, people who are jobless just don’t try enough, the politicians aren’t doing enough etc. So towards the end the book became a bit dull and I struggled to finish it. Still, it was again a book I usually wouldn’t read and I appreciate the experience of reading about a subject I know little about.
As I’ve said before, I’m a huge fan of the Witcher games and the new Netflix series The Witcher. I enjoyed Sapkowski’s previous book and I still think that the world he has created has such interesting details and lore. But when I read The Time of Contempt, I grew more and more irritated about the way some of the women are described. Maybe some of it can be explained with the fact that these aren’t recently written books, Time of Contempt was first published in mid-90s. But seriously, if you are a sorceress, who has lived for centuries or more and wield unimaginable power over magic, then how is it logical that you are worried about gaining weight (illusion food doesn’t make you fat apparently), worried about makeup, are automatically catty over a man etc. The amount of eye rolling I did while reading this book had my eyes hurting. I hope that if and when I will continue with reading these books, there will be less eye rolling moments.
Also, and this is a spoiler, I very much hope that the TV series will skip what was done to Ciri at the end of this book. She is one of the few female characters that did not cause eye rolling and has a distinguishable personality. Ciri is a child/young teen, we get told this over and over again, and she is starting to become a strong and complex character. And then it happens: she is in a tough spot where she has to trust strangers, survive a deadly desert and deal with killing and the aftermath of that and then “of course” she has to be sexually abused on top of everything. This felt so unnecessary. If the point was to show that she was in a bad place, it was already shown with her being alone, frightened with a group of strangers with whom she could maybe survive compared to being on her own without her guardians and loved ones. So what was the point? The use of rape/sexual assault has caused a lot of talk about how necessary it is as a way to tell stories in books/TV/movies etc. and this moment really had me angry about why the scene was necessary (if it was that). Again, this book was written a couple of decades ago so yes the times were different back then, but it makes me no less angry about this turn of events. I just hope there is some bigger meaning to this if I ever will read the next books.
These books fill prompts from the two Reading Challenges I’m doing this year:
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen
A work of fiction that includes a real person (Helmet Reading Challenge)
A book with a main character in their 20s (Popsugar Reading Challenge)
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
A book published as part of a publisher’s series (Helmet Reading Challenge)
A book by or about a journalist (Popsugar Reading Challenge)
The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski
Someone gets lost in the book (Helmet Reading Challenge)
A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads (Popsugar Reading Challenge)
Huipputuloiset by Anu Kantola and Hanna Kuusela
There are many people on the cover or in the description of the book (Helmet Reading Challenge)
A book with “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze” in the title (Popsugar Reading Challenge)