Recently Read #4

janekristin

 

Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre

I do enjoy a classic. This was my first time reading this wonderful book and I’ll surely return to it many a time in the future. I don’t even know where to begin, I put the book down two minutes ago and I’m still taking it in. Firstly, I’m a huge fan on Brontë’s writing. Every sentence is so well constructed with words that clearly have been carefully considered and fitted to place. I truly enjoyed reading this book because the writing was so eloquent. I usually tend to have trouble and frustration when reading older books as English isn’t my mother tongue but I didn’t face anything similar with this one which made my reading experience extremely pleasant.

The book is a beautiful combination of a development and a love story, the main emphasis being in Jane, the protagonist finding herself and her true purpose in life. The character of Jane Eyre is brilliant, as an orphan she has kind of had to take care of herself from an early age and it shows in her life throughout the years. I love her desire to learn and comprehend things, Jane knows that by developing her mind she is able to survive, which she sadly needs to do especially in the beginning of her life. Her mental strength is also strong and admirable, especially when she decides to leave Mr Rochester after the failed attempt of marriage. She could easily have stayed with him but her independence and unbelievable strength led her yet to another opportunity that developed her even more as a person.

I also enjoyed how Brontë added slight elements of horror and magic in the book. Mrs Rochester’s eerie actions and portrayal certainly added mystery and tension to the story, and the connection that Jane and Mr Rochester have towards the end of the book seems truly magical and seems to strengthen their unconditional love.

I’m thrilled that I finally read this book as I haven’t read a book in a while that really made me think about the world and how time has completely but not really changed it.

Kristin Hannah: The Nightingale 

 

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read. This book combines two things that truly fascinate me; France (Paris) and the World War II. The story is set around two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle and their life throughout the years of the war in Nazi-occupied France. The book binds around the themes of love, survival, betrayal, the power of women, war, friendship and family to name a few. The main story is told as a flashback triggered by an old identity card that Vianne finds from her attic.

The character of Isabelle appealed to me the most. She was clearly the troublemaker from the two sisters and certainly a rebel. During the war she joins the Resistance and ends up living quite a dangerous life as she starts to help soldiers from the allied forces to cross the French border to Spain. She shows an incredible amount of strength through being determined to fulfil her purpose without a fear of getting caught, without forgetting love and family. I like the tension that is constantly created through Isabelle having to interact with Nazi officers during the train journeys, as the reader expects her to get caught at some point, which eventually of course happens and the rest of her life is a tragedy.

Vianne on the other hand wants to live as normal life in their home village as possible during the occupation. In addition she has to provide accommodation for two Nazi officers, the first a gentleman, the second the opposite. Vianne is living under pressure and trying to hold her life together as well as take care of her daughter. Eventually she also finds her purpose by helping Jewish children to hide from the transportations, after she had betrayed her Jewish best friend. She survives through the war and has to carry the pain with her through her life until the conclusion of the book.

The book especially emphasises the many roles that women play in the war. It’s constant struggle for them and nothing comes easy when their husbands, father and brothers are fighting the war in the front. In the end, the story is a sweet portrayal of sisterhood and love under the horrors of the WW2. Like said in the beginning, I do love a read like this and this certainly was a page-turner for me.

 

The Nonspatial Continuum

The older I get, the faster time seems to fly by. I mean what even is time? According to one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions it’s “a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future”. Well, this year has felt exactly like events just succeeding one another up until this point. In the beginning of the year my time was consumed by studying and preparing for the final exams. After the finals, my focus went to entrance exams and after them it shifted to work. At work time was clearly divided into three parts: the start of the day, lunch break and the end of the day.  Then I received the information that I’d graduated from IB, next day my former boyfriend announced that he indeed would become my former boyfriend. Then it was my 19th birthday, then work continued and ended, leading to this present day. Becoming an adult is so freaking cool until the reality breaks in. Suddenly you have a million things to do in a day, especially if you live alone and the time that previously was dedicated to something fun, is now used to organising your marvellous life.

I’m haunted by the fact that I’m about to officially enter to a time period where I don’t have a permanent studying place or a job. My future seems to be extremely uncertain which doesn’t really get along with my anxiety. My only plan is to do online courses in open university and take whatever substitute teaching jobs I can and see what else will cross my path during this year of doom. I honestly feel like a failure even though I’m definitely not the only person in the whole world who didn’t get straight to university form high school. Ugh my life is so tragic.

On the bright side, I now posses all of the TIME in the world to figure out what to do with my glorious life.

Recently Read #3

kirjat

Both of these books are from authors whose other work I’ve admired for some time. I had quite high expectations for these books, but I have to affirm that I was a bit disappointed when reading them. It’s a wistful situation when you really want to like a book by an author you respect but end up being disappointed instead.

Carrie Hope Fletcher: All that she can see

The idea behind this book is really sweet. The protagonist, Cherry, has a magical ability to make people feel better trough her baking and she succeeds in what she does until she runs into a man called Chase, who can do the opposite of what Cherry is able to do. This first leads to a rivalry and then to a romance between them. This all is mixed with fraud psychics and a society of people trying to control people like Cherry and Chase who are later titled as Feelers.

I had a really hard time keep reading the book from the beginning. The story begins really flat and the characters are very simple and lack complexity. Everything seems to happen very quickly and the romance that forms between the two main characters is kind of forced and comes almost out of nowhere. I struggled through the first half of the book and then was pleasantly surprised with the second half. The story became darker and more magic was added into the mix which really brought the book alive. I finished the book pretty quickly and really enjoyed how the plot developed further. I also liked the use of letters in the end as a way of communication as this added depth to the writing.

Carrie’s writing is really enjoyable and easy to read. I love how she constantly introduces me to new words and phrases. I would have hoped to seen a bit more complexity in the development of the characters, the protagonist didn’t really express any kind of change which was disappointing, she seemed too polished in my opinion. I really wanted to love this book but this just wasn’t for me.

Lena Dunham: Not that kind of girl 

First and foremost, this book is full of boldness, honesty and girl-power. This is what I really enjoyed during reading. I was so intrigued I read this in under 24 hours, I just couldn’t put it down. I though this book was going to be a guidebook type of work but it turned out to be more of a memoir with valuable life lessons written in between the lines and chapters. To be honest I really couldn’t relate to anything she was writing about. Her life seemed to just be full of drug and alcohol fumed mess with multiple awkward sexual encounters and odd family anecdotes. Again, everything was pretty alluring even though in places contained a bit too much information and I couldn’t just find anything that would make me contemplate my life choices.

The writing of this book was very gripping and fun. I could sense the thought that was put into the words as well as the undeniable talent that Lena has when it comes to writing. I also liked how the book was divided into specific sections even though she didn’t write in a chronological order. This book was a fun read and I wish I would’ve gotten more out of it.

La Dolce Far Niente

kukka

After two wonderful summer jobs I’m finally on a holiday which I’ve been looking forward to quite a while. Going straight to work after my final exams maybe wasn’t the greatest of choices considering how high my stress levels were back then but I’m glad I started early because that only meant a much needed boost for my savings. I’m so thankful that I got to spend my summer in two such awesome jobs, I had a blast and I truly hope to find a job in the future that is as enjoyable as my experiences this summer.

The only thing that I rather dislike about holidays is that I don’t really know how to actually enjoy doing nothing. A voice in the back of my head keeps insisting that I really should be doing something more meaningful with my life than watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. My brain doesn’t seem to be able to register the fact that sometimes it’s okay to just have a break from everything and literally do nothing. It’s hard for me to stay positive when I do nothing because I feel like I’m wasting time and that makes me depressed. But at the same time I know that I need some kind of recess in order to gain both mental and physical strength. Well, the human mind can be ever so confusing and I’m intrigued to find even more about it through my endless disharmony with it.

Maybe I should take a trip to Italy to explore the concept of La Dolce Far Niente properly… Or take a real Eat Pray Love- journey to spice up my gap year.

Combating Social Media

I’m addicted to social media. My first thought in the morning has something to do with checking Instagram. When I’m bored I open my phone. When I’m waiting something I start scrolling. When I’m eating I reach for social media. I notice myself opening the phone way too much during the day and I hate it. I don’t even do anything significant I just scroll, scroll, scroll without really giving a thought to what I see. I find it so upsetting that my life has arrived to the point that I’m addicted to unconsciously staring at my screen.

The first thing I did in order to fight against social media was to stop checking my phone the first thing in the morning. This has made my mornings more productive for sure but doesn’t really affect the amount of time I spend on the virtual world during the day. The second thing I did to riot against this addiction was deleting Snapchat. I didn’t use it much anyway but still found myself often reading all kind of trash about celebrities on the news section so it was a great decision to disconnect myself from those unnecessary articles that don’t do anything positive to my mind. I also deleted YouTube and Netflix apps from my phone as it requires more effort to open my laptop than my phone so I’ll only watch something when I really really want to and not just because I’m a little bit bored because we all know how it goes when you trick yourself into thinking of watching only one video/episode.

Yesterday I also decided to start what I now call Social Media-Free Sunday. My intention was to reach less for my phone and do more things that would connect me with the real world. I noticed that my mind often wandered to social media and to who might have posted something  during this time and so on. But after a while I just kind of forgot it and focused on other things such as mindfulness colouring that I was absolutely obsessed a while ago and then got too busy, but I’m glad I found it again. I also noticed a change in the course of time as the amount of hours appeared to increase in my day when I didn’t constantly check my phone which was great as I also seemed to be much more productive and energised in general. I clearly use social media as a tool of procrastination which is a habit I want to get completely rid of. I wish to someday get into a state of mind where I truly register how much better it feels to cross out tasks from the do-to list than move them to the next day.

color

Recently Read #2

books

Recently I’ve been buying a lot of the books that I’d like to read as I usually believe these books are worth keeping for re-reading rounds. About a month ago I ran out of new books to read and couldn’t be bothered to order books and then wait a week for them to arrive, so I took a trip to the local library. I used to go to that library a lot when I was younger so it feels like home to me and it really hasn’t changed much from that time. This was the first time that I checked the adult’s English section (my mother tongue is actually Finnish) which to be honest, could be better but I understand that not everyone likes to read in English here. However I did found a book that hooked me from the beginning and is quite a new release which surprised me.

Elizabeth Kostova: The Shadow Land

To be honest, I first thought that this book would be more like a fantasy book based on the title but it turned out to be a really gripping mystery book instead, and I have nothing to complain about that. The book began quite slowly but it was still fascinating enough to come back to. The plot really develops just before the midpoint and some interesting subplots emerge. This story is located in Bulgaria which I enjoyed as the plot included a lot of history about the country that I had never heard before.

The main character is an American woman called Alexandra who has after some tragic events decided to move to Bulgaria to teach English and explore the country her brother loved. When she arrives she meets a family in front of a hotel who are nice to  her and when they leave, she notices that they have accidentally left her an item that is quite unusual. She then decides to go look for them across Bulgaria with a helpful taxi-driver called Bobby and along the way they discover more about the item that was left to Alexandra and about the horrible history that is connected to the item. After a while they also discover that they are followed and the family and maybe even they themselves are in danger.

I have never yet come across a mystery like this and the story was extremely gripping, especially after the midpoint. There are flashbacks to the history of a certain important character which bring great depth to the story and otherwise really bring out the history of Bulgaria. This book is a great mix of history and fiction with a little bit of a love story somewhere along the way, which definitely is my cup of tea.

Sujata Massey: The Kizuna Coast

To be honest, I mainly chose this book from the library shelf because of the beautiful artwork in the cover. This is another mystery book and I can’t believe I haven’t been introduced to this book series before. I have now discovered that the Rei Shimura mystery books are quite popular and critically acclaimed and I can totally see why. This book is an independent piece from the series but the main character and some other characters form the series remain the same.

I started reading this book yesterday and finished it today. It has over 400 pages so it’s quite a long read but I couldn’t put it down. The style of writing is really well flowing and it was immediately easy to understand the connection between the characters and places. The tension of the mystery ahead can be felt right from the beginning of the story and it builds up nicely through the book to the very last chapters of the piece.

The main character of the piece is Rei Shimura who has decided to settle in Hawaii with her husband after living in Japan for a while, solving mysteries and helping her mentor Mr. Ishida in his antique shop. They have managed to build a peaceful life for themselves until they hear about the earthquakes and tsunami that has occurred in Japan and destroyed most of the coast villages and towns. Rei gets a phone call from Mr. Ishida who has been travelling to an auction in a town that has been severely affected by the natural disaster. Rei hops on the plane to Japan in order to collect her mentor from the village and bring him back safely to Tokio. Along the way they discover that there is something wrong with the disappearance of Mr. Ishida’s assistant Mayumi who has been with him in the same area and who had some valuable pieces of art in her possession.

I loved how the mystery wasn’t clear straight from the beginning but the plot developed gradually and other subplots appeared to support the main storyline. All of the characters were well written and the writer’s knowledge about Japanese culture and the natural disasters were clearly visible which made the story really enjoyable to read and more valid. The story actually seemed to reflect the feelings of those who had been through the tsunami in real life which helped the reader to create a deep connection with the characters. There is also a lot of humour involved which lightens nicely the heavy topic of the book. Now I’m definitely intrigued to check the other pieces of the Rei Shimura series as well.

19 Things I’ve Learned In My Years On The Earth

  1. Kindness attracts kindness.
  2. I cannot stand the taste of alcohol. 
  3. Bad books are not worth of finishing.
  4. Asking questions is the best way to learn.
  5. Smiling to strangers can really brighten a day.
  6. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
  7. Bringing past to the present causes more pain. 
  8. Being yourself is more important than fitting in. 
  9. You will find the right people for you if you look hard enough.
  10. It’s okay to be vulnerable. 
  11. Going to church is not the only way to practice spirituality.
  12. There will always be people that find you weird/unpleasant.
  13. Positive thinking leads to positive outcomes.
  14. I don’t have to know what I want to do the rest of my life now. 
  15. Staying curious and playful makes life more enjoyable.
  16. A broken heart can be fixed even when it seems impossible.
  17. Not all people hate you even though your mind insists they do.
  18. Elderly people are so worth listening to. 
  19. Having causes to believe in give you a sense of purpose. 

Finishing A Chapter.

Finishing a chapter in life is bittersweet, it’s extremely difficult to end but at the same time it’s exciting to start a new one. It’s especially hard when it comes to relationships because those are chapters that are connected to strong emotions and ending them is rarely pleasant. I just recently had to close almost a three years long chapter in my life and it hurts a lot. It makes it harder that I wasn’t ready to end the chapter but at the same time I knew that this needed to happen.  I don’t consider this chapter as finished yet as living through the chapters is a process that cannot just end right there and then.

I’m  still going through different emotions and trying to make peace with myself in order to continue to the next chapter in a good place, with my mind as clear as possible. I definitely don’t want to rush it as I cannot just throw three years into a bin and pretend that they never existed. I want to cherish the good memories as I have no reason not to. I need to take some time to be sad though as this has affected me a great deal mentally, I did not only lose love but also my best friend. I think it does good to be sad a while when a chapter is closing as long as you can eventually pull yourself out of the sadness. I have no need to be angry but I feel that I have to give my mind some time to reset and then mark this chapter as concluded.

Finishing a chapter doesn’t have to be the end of everything. There is always a new beginning that can lead to something wonderful. You just need to make the beginning a good one by first dealing with the emotions of the ending.

Cruelty-free

makeup

I think all of us in some level know that most makeup brands test their products on animals. Even though we are aware of it, we still buy those products without hardly feeling any concern towards the animals. Recently I’ve started replacing my makeup and skincare items with cruelty-free ones when they’ve run out. I’ve spent years buying from the brands that dominate the mainstream media and are recommended by most beauty bloggers and vloggers and I just can’t do it anymore. I’m too aware of the testing the animals go through to continue supporting the brands that do that. It’s extremely easy to find quality cruelty-free products, at least I’ve found it to be so. All the products I’ve tested so far are as good or even better than my previous ones, and I’m happy that I’ve made the choice to do better.

I’d also like to decrease the amount of chemicals that I put into my face every day. Considering the fact that this skin will be attached to my body my whole life, I should take the best care of it that I can. I don’t want to ruin my skin with unnecessary chemicals that will only break my skin down more, I want to nourish it with ingredients that are more natural for the skin.

It would be great if more people could take time and do a bit of research on the topic and become more conscious in their choices and attitudes towards animal testing. I’m still in the very beginning of this journey but I know it will be a good one and worth it. It’s time to take action for the issues I stand for.

Now & Then.

I just recently found out that I didn’t get into a university. I’m disappointed in myself but I know that it’s okay not to get in the first time you apply. The hardest part is letting go of all the plans and dreams that I had for my life if I got in. I basically had imagined all the things that I would do and how I would study and how I could make new friends. It’s all gone now and I have to figure out a new plan for the year ahead.

In some way I kind of knew that I wouldn’t get in. I mean I only had two weeks to study for the entrance exams, I didn’t study enough and on top of that I was working at the same time so my chances of getting in were actually pretty low. I still kept believing that I would get in and formed my future life around that fact which, was not a great move to make. I’m just the type of person who wants to live in the dream rather than in the reality because let’s face it, we believe that the dreams are always better than the reality.

Now that I’ve had time to think, I notice how foolish it was to form my future around the fact that I would get in. Yes, it is okay to hope to to have something but not to form a life around the thought of it. This certainly brought me back in the importance of living this moment rather than living in the make-believe. I’ve been studying yoga for a while now and trying really hard to stay in the present moment. It’s hard but I’ve managed to have periods of time when I’ve felt like I’m actually here and I have nothing to worry about but this moment. Then there are moments like this and I lose myself into my dreams and give them more value than I do for my time now.

What is different now compared to before I started studying yoga, is the fact that I noticed I’ve been living in my thoughts and not in the present moment. I did acknowledge that fact which brought me back into the now and hit me hard. Now I feel like I can look at the situation of getting rejected from a different point of view. I didn’t get in but that doesn’t affect my life right now, it’s not like the school starts today. I cannot possibly know what will happen during the following two months and it might even be that something even better than getting into a university comes to my way and I accept it with open arms. It’s impossible to plan my future as I’m not there yet controlling the way, instead I’m here, in control of this moment that I hold in my hands.

It’s too easy to get caught into the dreams and forget what is actually happening around us. It’s too easy to spend the present moment thinking about the future or even the past and live there rather than make something happen when it matters. But it’s also easy to stop. Just stop and look around, catch the breath and really see what is going on. Acknowledge the present, the now, and decide what can I do now rather than thinking what shall I do then. Decide who I am now, not who shall I be then.