Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

when-the-doves-disappeared

I just finished reading Sofi Oksanen’s new book “When The Doves Disappeared”. “When the Doves Disappeared” is a story of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Estonia during and after World War II. The novel follows the experiences of three characters: Roland, a principled independence fighter; his cousin Edgar, who will do almost anything to hide his secrets and maintain his connection to those in power; and Edgar’s wife Juudit, who is buffeted in turns by her love for a German officer, her fear of returning to her unhappy, unconsummated marriage, and her bond with the idealistic Roland.

The book is based on historical facts and switches between 1940’s and 1960’s. The biggest character is Edgar who is willing to do anything to stay in power and who collaborates with Germans in the beginning of WWII and then with Russians who also invade Estonia. Edgar hides all traces of him collaborating with Germans and starts to collaborate with Russians delivering to them lists of people who collaborated with the Germans. He is married to Juudit but in fact Edgar is homosexual. Edgar is a master at forging documents and making up backup stories. And he is also very paranoid about being discovered who he really is. Roland is a true Estonian man – brave, honest and loyal to his own country, he saves people when he can and has principles. Juudit is a complex character because she is unhappily married to a wrong man, then she starts an affair with a high German officer and then has a strong bond with Roland also. She also has a drinking problem and she stays with Edgar until the end.

This book is catchy because with every chapter you get a little piece of a puzzle and you just want to get the whole picture together and keep on reading. It’s also a complex story that switches through time and needs thinking along when reading. The ending is surprising and confusing at the same time. I think the reader must draw his/her own conclusion in the end.  I liked the story, I found the characters interesting and I had a lot to think about when I finished the book.

Here are some other reviews about Oksanens new book:

Oksanen masterfully constructs her world; paranoia and fear drip like sweat from the pages.

—   Me Naiset (Finland)

When the Doves Disappeared is powerful and convincing. Oksanen lives up to all the expectations… Oksanen unites political history, micro history, and fiction in an intelligent way. She explores how human kind adapts to ever-changing circumstances.
— MTV3 (Finland)

Sofi Oksanen’s new novel was worth waiting for… As in her previous works, the personal is strongly political also here. The individual, who is torn in the crossfire between different ideologies, crouches in the wings that conceal secrets, shame and fear. Although certain decisions can have terrifying consequences, they are not necessarily a result of evil. A betrayal can be the only route to survival. Oksanen is a master at rendering people in precisely those circumstances.
— Kaleva (Finland)

I definitely recommend this book. It’s something different 🙂

Pilt

10 Day Challenge – Day 9 – Two books you like

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

“Pride And Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Pilt

I finally finished reading Dan Brown’s latest book “The Lost Symbol” which actually was published already in 2009. I wanted to read this book for so long but every time something intervened. But now I finally finished reading it. I loved the book. I’ve read all of Dan Brown books but not in the order they were released. I first heard about the author Dan Brown through my literature teacher. She advised our class to read “The Da Vinci Code”. At first I had my prejudices but when I was done reading 30 pages from the book I was totally hooked. Dan Brown writes so well that the pages “fly” when you’re reading. I really liked that his book combined a thriller storyline with history, symbology and mythology. Then I read his previous books “Angels And Demons”, “Deception Point” and “Digital Fortress”. And I absolutely loved them.

The main character in “The Lost Symbol” is again symbologist Robert Langdon. The plot revolves around the Freemasons and finding their treasure (the lost symbol) in order to save a man’s life. I didn’t know much about the Freemasons and that’s why it was really interesting for me to read about them. I also didn’t know anything about noetic science but thanks to this book I have a quite clear picture of what kind of questions they are trying to answer. And I don’t know if it’s because lately I’ve been watching only crime related TV-shows and films or something else but in the end I guessed who the main bad guy really was. As I said I really liked the book but I do think that the last 2 chapters in the book could have not been there. If the story had ended with the finding of the lost symbol then it would have been the perfect ending. But the 2 chapters discussing the importance of the treasure to me at least were pretty pointless. maybe it’s because I’m not a religious person and I do not quite agree with the author on the importance of the “lost symbol”. I don’t know. But I am really looking forward to seeing the film version of it. I know that Tom Hanks will once again play Robert Langdon – he fits really well in this role. And I think that the movies about “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” were really good. I also visited Dan Brown’s official website and it’s so cool – one can find extra information about each of his books and in addition to that there are cool code breaking tests there also. And about the last book one can try to identify certain symbols. Here is the link to the site – http://www.thelostsymbol.com/symbolquest/index.php.

I think Dan Brown is a brilliant writer and I look forward to reading more of his books. And I do hope that he keeps the character Robert Langdon – because he is awesome 😉

Well, I just got back from watching the movie “Thor” and I really liked it. This made me once again to think about Norse mythology. I thinks it’s so versatile and full of interesting characters. The second reason I like the band Amon Amarth (the first is of course the music) so much is that the lyrics are about Norse mythology. And that’s why I decided to write about it.

One of the central ideas in Norse mythology is Yggdrasil – The Tree Of Life. In the midst of Asgard, where the gods dwelt, was Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil was the tree of life. It was an eternal green Ash tree, its branches stretched out over the worlds. It was under this tree the gods held their meetings and held court. Yggdrasil had three roots.

The first root of Yggdrasil went to Asgard, the home of the gods. By this root was a well named Urd’s Well. This was where the gods held daily assemblies. It was at Urd’s Well the three Norns lived. Their names were Urd (fate), Skuld (present) and Verdani (future). The three Norns were the goddesses of fate. They spent much of their time spinning the threads of life, deciding the fate of every human and every god. Whenever a child was born, the Norns spun the fate of the child in their threads. Every morning the three Norns would start the day by placing a rooster at the top of the tree. The crow of the rooster would work as a wake-up call for all humans and gods. Every day the Norns would also fetch water from Urd’s Well and pour it over Yggdrasil. The water from the well was of vital importance to keep the tree green and healthy. In Viking times it was quite common to serve a woman who had just given birth to a child some porridge. They called this porridge: Norn-porridge. The Vikings believed the Norns were nearby whenever a child was born. The porridge was considered an offering to the Norns. They hoped the porridge would please the Norns and secure good health for mother and child.

The Second Root of Yggdrasil: Mimir’s Well. The second root went to Jotunheim, land of the giants and trolls. By this root was Mimir’s Well. Mimir was the wisest of all living beings. Odin sacrificed an eye for the rare privilege to have a drink from this well, thus gaining its wisdom. That is how Odin became the one-eyed god. In Norse mythology there is also another older family of gods. They were called the Vanir. The Vanir had a reputation of being masters of sorcery. The Aesir and the Vanir had been at war with each other. To end the fighting, the two branches of gods decided to exchange hostages. The Aesir sent Honir and Mimir to the Vanir. In exchange the Vanir gave Njord and the twins, Frey and Freyja to the Aesir. The Vanir made Honir their chief. As time passed they grew quite upset with Honir. It seemed he could not make a decision on his own, but relied on Mimir to provide the answers. In a rage the Vanir beheaded Mimir and sent his head rolling into Asgard. Odin was devastated. He took the head of Mimir and anointed it with special herbs. He also recited spells. Miraculously the head of Mimir was restored back to life and became the talking head. Odin kept the head. He would consult the head of Mimir whenever a difficult problem arose.

The Third Root of Yggradsil. The third root went to Niflheim. This was the place where Hel ruled her gruesome Underworld. Hel was the daughter of the despiteful Loki. Anyone who died of old age or disease was sent to Hel. It was a dark and gloomy place. Nidhogg gnawed on this root. Nidhogg was also known to suck the blood out of the dead bodies. The well by this root was named Hvergelmir.

Norse mythology had 9 worlds. These were: Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Niflheim, Alfheim, Svartalheim, Nidarvellir, Midgard, Muspelheim. As said before Asgard was the home of Gods. Vanheim was the home of the Vanir gods. The Vanir gods are an old branch of gods. The word “heim” means home. The Vanir were masters of sorcery and magic. They are also widely recognized for their talent to predict the future. Jotunheim was the home of the Jotuns, the giants. They were the sworn enemies of the Aesir. They lived in the mountains. Niflheim was the dark land of mist and cold. It was in the far north. This was the lowest of all the nine worlds. The home of the dead was in Niflheim. It was ruled by Hel. It was a gloomy and pitiful place. All humans who died of old age or illness were sent to live in Hel in their afterlife. Alfheim was the home of the light elves. Their home was right by Asgard in the heaven. They were beautiful and auspicious creatures. They were considered the “guardian angels” in Norse Mythology. Svartalheim was the home of the dark elves. They lived under the ground. They were hideous and could be a great nuisance to the humans. The dark elves were nothing but trouble. Many believed dark elves were also responsible for nightmares. These dark elves were called mare. A mare would sit on a sleeping person’s chest and whisper bad dreams to haunt the poor soul. A mare could also haunt animals, especially horses. Nidarvellir was the home of the dwarfs. They lived under rocks, in caves and underground. They were masters of craftsmanship. The gods of Aesir received many fabulous gifts from the dwarfs; the magical ring, Thor’s hammer, and the amazing ship are some examples of their outstanding talent of craftsmanship. Midgard was the home of the humans. It was mostly populated by the Sons of Heimdall. The humans were constantly exposed to the gods, goddesses and creatures from the other worlds in Norse Mythology. It was Odin and his two brothers who had created the humans. A rainbow bridge called Bifrost connected Midgard and Asgard. The gods frequently travelled across Bifrost. Muspelheim was the land of fire. It was ruled by the giant Surt. He was a sworn enemy of the Aesir. It was located in the far south. It was the first land of existence. Surt will ride out with his flaming sward at Ragnarok, the end of the world. Surt will kill Freyr and set fire to Asgard, turning the home of the gods into an inferno.

Odin was the chief god. He was the most powerful god in Asgard. Odin was the grandson of the very first Aesir, Buri. He was the son of Bor and Bestla. Bestla was a Jotun woman. Odin was married to Frigg. Together they had the sons Balder and Hod. He also had children with other women. Odin and Fjorgyn had a son named Thor. Odin and Grid had a son named Vidar. Thor was the strongest god in Asgard. Vidar was the second strongest god. Fjorgyn and Grid were both Jotun women.

Thor was the son of Odin (the chief god) and Fjorgyn (Earth). Thor was the strongest of all the gods. Thor had red hair and a beard. He was known to be ill tempered. Thor was the thunder god. He ruled the storms. Thor rode above the clouds in a chariot pulled by two goats. The names of the two goats were Tooth-grinder and Tooth-gnashed. Whenever Thor rode in his chariot people could hear the noise from the wheels and saw the strong sparks the wheels sent out as they speed across the sky. Others said the mighty sparks (the lightning) came from his hammer. The humans called this thunder and lightning. Thor has given his name to Thursday.

Loki was the son of the giants Farbauti (father) and Laufey (mother). He was not an Aesir but lived in Asgard with the Aesir. Odin had taken him in and made Loki his blood brother. Loki was described as being quite handsome.

There are many other characters in Norse mythology but the list would be too long to write it all down here. But Odin, Thor and Loki are three most well-known gods. I’ve always thought the Vikings were awesome and I think Norse mythology is even more awesome. It’s a pity that old Scandinavians were forced to accept Christianity as the new faith.

But definitely go see “Thor”. I liked it because it was different – the plot moved between modern day and Asgard and it gives a short glimpse into the Norse mythology. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin had a minor role but he played it so well. Thor was played by an Australian actor Chris Hemsworth – he played his role well also and looked good also 😉 But what I liked the most was the character Loki – he was a villain but yet there was still something good in him (kind of like Darth Vader), overall it was a very multifaceted character and I so loved how Tom Hiddleston played the part. And although Chris Hemsworth showed off his well trained body there was something about Tom Hiddelston that made me say – I like him, a lot 😉 I know that some people have criticized the film for being too far from the truth. I say – if you want only the true facts, see a documentary. I’ve watched documentaries about Vikings and Norse mythology and I’ve found them to be really good. “Thor” is a movie not a documentary, so naturally it has a storyline that is not only pure facts and figures. So, definitely go see the film 🙂

I can’t believe I never watched “The Godfather”. I’ve always heard it’s considered one of the best movies of all time. I’m always critical about these kind of movies. Usually when a movie is highly rated and liked by people and critics like it I don’t like it. Like for example “Avatar”. Now I had some time and I was curious about “The Godfather”. Firstly I read about it and almost immediately was “sold” to the story. And then I watched all the three movies. And I’m just stunned – “The Godfather” trilogy is really one of the best movies I’ve seen. I really like the story and  I think the actors are amazing.

The first film is based on the Mario Puzo book “The Godfather” and follows the story there. Although it is shot in 1972 it does not bother me that there aren’t any cool nowadays effects. I think that the best roles are done by Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen and Robert DeNiro as young Vito Corleone. I honestly don’t know what the heads of the Paramount studio were thinking if they wanted to replace Al Pacino. I think he was the perfect Michael Corleone. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that role. The second film starts where the first one ended – Michael becomes the new head of the family and how he manages as this. In a parallel line there is also the story of young boy named Vito Andollino – how he came to the USA and later in life became don Vito Corleone. The third film is done many years later in 1990 and observes the downfall of the Corleone family, Michael retiring and the new generation of Corleones.

The life story of Michael Corleone is  what captured my attention. Michael Corleone never wanted to be in his father business, he wanted to do something else. That’s why he was referred to as “civilian”. But after his father (the godfather don Vito Corleone) was shot and taken into hospital the rage kind of blinded him and he wanted revenge. That’s the first time the “gangster” in him comes out. After that he retreats to Sicily and falls in love (in my opinion truly in love for the first time) to a local girl and marries her. I know that he was with Kay before but I really think that Apollonia was the love of his life. Unfortunately she was killed just minutes before Michael learned about the death of his older brother Sonny. And I think it was the turning point in the story – Michael learned that the world that surrounds him is full of violence and people closest to him are dying or hurt. That makes him want to take care of the rest of the family so that they can stay safe. But in doing that he actually forgets to think about the feelings of others and also of his own feelings. He marries Kay, has children with her, is truly the new head of the family but he isn’t happy. His brother betrays him, the enemies never go away – he starts to alienate people closest to him. Therefore he loses Kay and his children, he has his brother Fredo killed and in the end is alone. And although many people say that the third film isn’t that good and shouldn’t have been made I disagree. I think that the third film is the natural and logical step towards the end. In the third film Michael is a broken man and isn’t anymore the powerful head of the family. Many people dislike the third movie for that very same reason. But I think it’s pretty logical – Michael never wanted to lead the criminal life, he never wanted to be the head of the family but he was forced to do that. So most of his life he lived with being in contrast with himself that’s why in my opinion in the third film when he is older he tries to do something he wanted to do already when he was young. That’s why he seeks redemption and forgiveness. But as usual he doesn’t succeed because as they say – when you give your finger to the devil it takes the whole hand.  In the third movie he learns that his fathers oldest friend betrays the family and due to that Michael’s dearest and oldest friend don Tommassino is killed. The enemies of the Corleone family shoot Michael and kill her daughter Mary. The loss of Mary is the final straw to Michael. The film ends with Michael being very old, sitting in a chair in Sicily and thinking about his daughter Mary, his first wife Apollonia and his second wife Kay and then he collapses and dies. It’s just sad how the life of Michael was and how he badly wanted to make amends and every time something happened.

The other part of the story that I liked is the overall mafia family everyday life. Luckily I’ve never had any contact with any mafia people – I think nowadays the various gangs are the main theme, not so much of the mafia world anymore. But it was interesting to see how these kind of families “work”, how close they actually are to each other, how important is the “code” and honor etc. It was also inspiring to watch how a small boy named Vito Andollino from the Sicilian city of Corleone comes to the USA, grows up, works very hard and in the end becomes a famous and honored don Vito Corleone. In a way it’s the American dream – you start off very poor but you work very hard and in the end you can become rich and respected.

What was a bit weird for me is the main love theme in the third movie – the love between Vincent Corleone (Sonny’s illegitimate son) and Mary Corleone (Michael’s daughter). They are cousins. It’s just weird. But I do think they cast very good actor for these roles – Andy Garcia makes an awesome Vincent Corleone and Sofia Coppola is a good Mary. Some have said that Sofia Coppola’s Mary wasn’t good at all. I don’t quite agree. Mary was supposed to be naive, innocent girl who is just discovering the world, she was his fathers little girl and she didn’t have so many lines in the movies. That’s why I think Sofia Coppola suited for the role.

But I do have to applaud to Francis Ford Coppola for making this awesome movie and to Mario Puzo for writing such awesome book. I really enjoyed these three movies. I’m just a bit sad that I didn’t discover them earlier. I definitely advise people to watch this movie (if you haven’t watched already). It’s not the typical gangster movie, it’s much more.

Here’s the main theme accompanied by some clips of the movie:

Recently I finished reading a book about Marilyn Monroe. To be honest I have always considered her a beautiful woman but I never had any respect for her because I thought she was a typical “dumb blonde”. For my only excuse I can say that there is a significant time gap between us (I didn’t know her when she was alive) – she was born 1926 and died in 1962 but I was born 25 years later in 1987. But of course I had heard of her but apparantly not enough to know her. My grand-father has always considered her to be the “ultimate woman” and had talked a lot about her. I actually have seen only one movie where she has starred in – “Some Like It Hot” along-side Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Since I like reading biographies my grand-father advised me this new book about Marilyn he had bought. This book was published in 2009 and is called “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe”.

At first I was sceptical when I started to read this book but when I finished it I was overwhelmed and sad. I was sad because Marilyn turned out to be a woman who was stunningly beautiful and intelligent but also a woman with a broken soul, haunted by her mothers and grand-mothers destiny and a woman who was often dependant on the people who would make her life even harder and drove her to her “mother’s path”. Her life wasn’t easy at all and everything she had achieved was a result of hard work and overcoming of personal problems. She was a kind soul and very warm-hearted to people around her.

I was disappointed to read that her second husband  – baseball player Joe DiMaggio had beaten her. Also what disappointed me was the fact that the film companies wanted her to stay in that “dumb blond” role even though she herself wanted stronger and more meaningful roles. Then of course the problems she had due to her mother who was dignosed with schizophrenia and was hospitalized all her life.  Her third husband – playwright Arthur Miller – found her charming and smart but not equal to his intelligence. He wrote in his diary that he agrees with his friend who thought that Marilyn was a bitch. When Marilyn found that diary and read what he had wrote it was devastating to her. Then of course the fact the she had two miscarriages and finally the doctor told her that she can’t have children (she had wanted children very much). And finally the behaviour of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He (having always been a woman’s man) wanted her, had her and then dumped her after one night with her. Marilyn fell in love but to JFK she was just another conquest. When you add to that her own constant hesitations she had – she’s not beautiful enough, she’s not smart enough, she’s not a real actress, she’ll have the same destiny as her mother…. I believe that she had enough and just decided to end her constant misery. Later it was revealed that she had a bipolar disorder which could have been treated well with the right medications.

I was sad because all her life had been a constant struggle filled with disappointments and yet she managed to leave such an impression to the world that even now – 50 years later people consider her a great star and one of the most beautiful women ever lived.

So, as they say – never judge a book by it’s cover. And as of know I have to admit that I have great respect for the woman and I consider myself as one of her fans. It would have been great if she could have lived longer so people would know more about her. But as always – the good die young.

Ilmadest on aru saada, et sügis ikka hakkab tulema. Kõige naljakam on see, et ma olen alati pidanud ebameeldivaks seda perioodi ja sügist üldse. Aga see aasta ma hoopiski ootan seda – sügises on sel aastal uudsust, erinevaid projekte ning kuidagi uut lootust. Ja see on hea.

Töörindel ei ole kahjuks midagi muutunud Ja see teeb meele mustaks – eriti kui kuuled kuidas ümberringi inimesed saavad tööd. Võib-olla on ka asi selles, et ma ei võta igasugust tööd ka vastu. Ma ei lähe kuskile müüjaks, sest ma ei õppinud selleks. Mul oleks olnud võimalus minna tagasi raamatukokku tööle, aga ma ei tahtnud – ma ei õppisin riigiteadusi/ühiskonnateadusi ja mulle ei meeldiks istuda päev läbi kuskil ruumis sees ja tegeleda ainult raamatutega – ma tahan korraldada, suhelda ja “be creative”. Aga ma ei kaota lootust – my search will go on.

Loen hetkel raamatut “Seks ja skandaalid: maailma põnevaimad armulood” (“The Worlds Greatest Sex and Scandals”).  Jah, peamiselt kirjutatatakse sealt inimestevahelistest suhetest, aga samas ilmnevad nii mõnedki huvitavad faktid. Näiteks: Wallis Simpson ja inglise tulevane kuningas prints Edward. Sellest on tehtud suur armulugu (eks ta seda omamoodi oli ka), aga kõrvaliseks on jäänud asjaolu, et tegelikult oli parlamendil vaja põhjust Edwardi taandamiseks, sest Edward oli fašistlike vaadetega ning toetas Hitlerit. Selle põhjuse andis parlamendile Wallis Simpson, kes oli lahutatud ameeriklanna, polnud protestant ning polnud ja ka inglise kõrgseltskonnas austatud. Ja üldse kui vaadata tolleaegsest ühiskonda ja näiteks eriti kuninglikku õukonda, siis võib väita, et tegemist oli palju rohkem liiderliku ühiskonnaga kui tänapäeval. Oli ka keskajal kõik see, mis tänapäeval, kuid see oli üldtuntud saladus. Samas tekib mul küsimus, kas truudust üldse ikka eksisteerib. Olen kokku puutunud nii paljude juhtudega, kus petavad mõlemad abikaasad või siis üks pool – aga ikka ollakse abielus. Mis on siis kogu selle asja mõte? Üks ebameeldivaimaid kokkupuuteid seisnes umbes kuu aega tagasi selles, kui tutvusin ühe abielus oleva mehega (professionaalsel tasemel ja eesmärgil) ning tema tegi mulle ettepaneku hakata tema armukeseks. See oli minu jaoks ülimalt solvav. Ma olen selles suhtes lollilt ja järjekindlalt oma joont ajav, aga kui ma ikka olen ühega, siis olen temaga. Ja kellegi teise õnne ma segama ka e hakka – ära himusta seda, mis kuulub teisele. Ja juba see sõna armuke – ma ei tea, see käis igatahes minu sisemise uhkuse pihta – ma ei kavatse olla kellegi teine valik, kellegi uksematt, mida kasutatakse vaid vajadusel ning kes alati jääb ikka ukse taha.

Kõige rohkem ootan ma praegu aga Nightwishi kontserti Hartwall Arenal. Sinnani on veel 33 päeva. Mul on küll natuke kahju sellest, et ma ei saanud piletit nii lähedale ning pidin leppima istekohapiletiga, aga siiski ma saan neid näha live’is. Tegelikult olen ma teinud ühe “projekti” seoses Nightwish’iga. Nüüd mõtelsin, et panen ühe osa sellest ka siia.