Posted by Sari
Category 5, A Finnish SF Book: Aira Brink: Memmoin Arvat
I read very little in Finnish as I have problems with the mode of Finnish story telling (every day life is in the centre even with SF-novels), and because I find the difference between written and spoken register to be so huge, that I very rarely find dialogue that works for me. That made this one of the tougher catetories in the challenge.
One of my favourite books as a child - and even now - is Aira Brink's Velhojuuri, and I her other historical fantasy, Memmoin arvat, has been on the book shelf far too long. Memmoin arvat is a story of Bishop Thomas' crusade to Neva river in the 13th-century, the struggle between christianity and old local religion in Finland. It even recounts the famous story of Finland's patron saint Bishop Henrik and Lalli.
The structure with its stories within stories was a bit challenging, and I am not a fan of using present tense in narratives so reading was heavy going sometimes. It also felt more like a history lesson with dash of magical realism than a full blown novel. The most intriguing character, Bishop Thomas, was left as a bit of a mystery, the changes in the POV did not really work, and the plot was sort of left hanging. There was a great story somewhere in the book but it really did not get out.
Category 29, Alternate history book: Jo Walton: Ha'Penny
Ha'Penny is second of Walton's Small Change trilogy. In her alternative history world Britain madea nixonian "a peace with honor" with Third Reich in 1940 when America did not step up to help, and is slowly sliding towards fascism. In Ha'Penny our old friend Scotland Yard inspector Charmichael investigates a bombing. In alternative chapters Violet Lark, an actress and a character whose family is clearly modelled on Mitfords, describes how she got involved with a consipiracy.
Jo Walton is one of my favourites, both as an author as a critic, but I have been reading the small change trilogy quite slowly. The reason is that it is very good at what it does, and it depresses me. Mixing together golden age detective story - think Ngaio Marsh or Margery Allingham a bit more than Christie - with very believable alternate history. People are gettig in the mindset on informing on their friends and family, minorities are finding life harder and harder, and the elite is looking after itself. Charmichael, trapped by the system and the knowledge his superiors have on him is trying to do the right thing but is finding harder and harder.
Nordqvist Nippon Green
This is a bagged sencha with strawberry, lemon and vanilla aromas. The strawberry and, in the after taste, lemon are the main flavours. It is quite mild so letting it brew for full two minutes from the recomended 1-2 is a good idea. The recommended water temperature is 75-80 degrees. It is an all right, inoffensive aromatised tea.