Tuesday, April 30, 2013

55 Bookish Questions

In trying to decide what I was going to write for my blog and looking for bookish memes I came across this booking quiz here. It turned out to be both easier and harder than expected. I hope this gives a little insight into my reading habits.


1. Favorite childhood book?
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2. What are you reading right now?
Well I literally just finished Stormlord Rising by Glenda Larke. The next book I read will be Stormlord's Exile by the same author.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None at the moment.

4. Bad book habit?
Buying books when I am overseas and knowing that I will have to sacrifice some when I leave.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Stormlord Rising and Stormlord's Exile by Glenda Larke
Sacrifice and Heretic by Sarah Singleton

6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yup. A Kobo. I don't use it very often though. I prefer to read actual books and I bought the Kobo mostly for travelling.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
It depends on my mood and the book. Often I will have several going but across varying genres so that I can match my book to my mood.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
This year... Oh wow. I can't really remember all the books I have read this year... maybe Time Riders by Alex Scarrow. I managed to get about halfway through I think but it just didn't hold my interest.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
I'm gonna go for The Stormlord Trilogy by Glenda Larke but I also really enjoyed reading The Judas Strain, The Devil Colony and Bloodline from the SIGMA Force series by James Rollins, not to mention The Sacred Vault by Andy McDermott.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Well I guess it depends what is out of your comfort zone. I like to read a wide range of genres so I don't really have much of a comfort zone.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I don't know.

13. Can you read on the bus?
All the time. It makes the trips go by so much quicker.

14. Favorite place to read?
In bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
It depends on the person and how much I want them to read the book. If I know they love and respect books then I am more likely to lend.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Nope. I've never had an urge to.

18. Not even with text books?
Well maybe a little bit of writing but mostly it was highlighting parts I needed to pay more attention to.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English... I'm not quite at the read in Finnish level yet.

20. What makes you love a book?
Characters, plot, and the writing itself. You can have a great plot and characters but if it isn't well written it's horrible. I think you could have any two of these three and without the third the book just wouldn't be good enough for me to love.... Epic heroics also help.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
See above ^^^ Also if the book has stuck in my head then it has done something right.

22. Favorite genre?
I don't have any one genre that stands out above the rest. I would have to say that Fantasy, Science Fiction and Action/adventure would be at the top.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Non-Fiction... I do read some but not as much as I would like.

24. Favorite biography?
The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Do

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

26. Favorite cookbook?
I've only ever bought one so it would have to be The Food & Cooking of Finland by Anja Hill.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden... Everytime I read it it makes me think hard.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Anything that's tasty and I don't have to concentrate on to eat.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Harry Potter. Everyone loved it but I really didn't.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I rarely read reviews on books so I can't really say that I ever agree or disagree.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don't often dislike books but when I do there is no point in pretending that I do like it. I just say that I disliked the book.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Finnish... because if I am reading in it then I'm probably speaking it fluently! (I hope!)

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I don't think I've ever truly been intimidated by a book that I can remember but if I had to choose probably reading The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
The Hunger Games in Finnish. I will get there! I will read it!

35. Favorite Poet?
Dorothea Mackellar or William Blake. I can't decide.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
About 10.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Rarely. Maybe 1 in every 50 books I borrow.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Ellie Linton or Alanna of Pirates Swoop and Olau.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
This was hard to think of but I will go with Duke Roger of Conté from the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. Honourable mention to President Snow of The Hunger Games.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Tomorrow, When The War Began and in general action/adventure and crime novels.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
A week? I read every day if I can whether an actual book or just some fanfiction.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
Emma by Jane Austen. I had to read it for school and just couldn't do it.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
Food? I can really get into books and block out the world all around me.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Tomorrow When The War Began

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
The Lovely Bones. I loved the book but really really didn't enjoy the film.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I think I spent about $80 when the last Borders store was closing in Sydney.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Rarely. I usually just read the blurb and make a decision from that.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If it was boring me and I was having to force myself to read it.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Well I try but it's hard when you don't have space for your books or you create piles of books to be read.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep. I don't like to give away books.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice

52. Name a book that made you angry.
No book has ever made me angry, but many have made me sad.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Sahara by Clive Cussler. My dad was constantly going on about how good he thought Clive Cussler was and how much better than the movie the book was. Usually this means I don't like the book but I really enjoyed it. I am also now a massive Clive Cussler fan and dad probably regrets telling me about him because I permanently borrow his books.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
Emma by Jane Austen. I had to read this for school. I was excited to read it. I really tried and started reading it early and it made me fall asleep on the first page. I forced myself to read 12 chapters but still couldn't get into it.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Tomorrow Series by John Marsden, and anything Star Wars.


Random Logic

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beautiful Tallinn

I really meant to write this a few weeks ago! Better late than never!

Last month I went to London as mentioned in my previous post, but I also got the chance to head back over to Tallinn, Estonia for a trip the following weekend. It was the fifth time I had been there and definitely a different experience to previous trips there.

First off I went over with a friend and fellow au pair who was leaving the country the following week. Her original planned stay in Finland had been cut short and she had definitely been planning to visit Tallinn before that happened. As a result she decided to spend her last full weekend in Finland in Tallinn. As I love the ciy I volunteered to go along and show her around and stuff like that.

Now I have played tour guide to people in other cities including Turku, Finland and Sydney, Australia where I have spent significant amounts of time and lived but I have never lived in Tallinn so for me it was just as great to go and show her the things I love there as to visit places I hadn't been. It's also the first time I've been any kind of guide in a place where there is so much history.

We stayed with my cousins in Tallinn. They live about 10-15 minutes walk from Vana Linna or in English the Old Town. It is a medieval town centre and not much has changed in the buildings since that time.

By the time we got to Tallinn on the Friday, we had actually already been travelling for over 6 hours by bus and boat. We ended up spending most of the first day in the Old Town wandering around, looking at churches and trying not to get too confused in the sometimes maze-like streets.The best thing about getting lost though, is that you get to see the amazing architecture that has survived to this day and the many buildings that have been restored. There are also some amazing doors!

There are many churches in this part of Tallinn, including two Orthodox churches, and at least one Catholic church not to mention several Lutheran churches. One of the Lutheran churches (St Olav's/Oleviste Kirik) was actually the tallest building in the world for a time when it was constructed with a spire that stood at 159 metres. It burned several times however, after being struck by lightning, and the current spire stands at just 124 metres.

For lunch on this day we decided to stop in at the Reval Cafe in the old town centre. I have been to at least three different Reval Cafe's in the time I have spent in Tallinn and I have to say that every time the food has been fantastic, as well as the service. I also think that it is extremely reasonably priced.

We also spent some time in Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum). It is definitely a museum worth visiting. Whilst not so large as many museums it tells the story of the history of Tallinn quite well and in an easy to understand fashion. I definitely learned things I hadn't known about the Hanseatic period(Tallinn was a major city and trading port for the Hanseatic League and was known as Reval during this time).

Saturday we got up fairly early and decided we would walk into the Old Town. It is a nice walk and the way we went took us up and over part of the walls that still stand to the top of Toompea Hill which is the upper part of the old town. You end up with some fantastic views of the old town from there and it's great for taking photos.

First thing on the agenda for the day was to head up onto the city walls. One of the fantastic things about the Old Town and the fact that it has been so well preserved is that it actually means you can get up onto the town walls where they still stand at some points. It is interesting to see the town from this perspective and makes me glad that I'm not a guard for walls and living in the middle ages. The walkway is not actually very wide and there is never anything pleasant about looking straight down to the cobblestones below when all that stops you if you slip is a wooden railing.

After the wall we took the opportunity to do a sightseeing bus tour of a bit of the rest of Tallinn. My cousin had been amazing and bought us some 24 hour bus tickets for a sightseeing bus that goes around Tallinn on three different routes. We took the green line tour which took us to the Pirita beach district where there are the ruins of Pirita Monastery(dedicated to St Brigitta) and past the area which was built for the 1980 olympics when Tallinn hosted the yachting events for the olympics.

In the afternoon we decided we would try to see some more museums. First we headed off to Kiek in de Kök, which is situated in one of the towers along the wall. We also wanted to visit the Bastion Passages but hadn't realised that we had to pre-book so we ended up missing out on that part. It was the second time for me to visit the museum however and I loved it just as much as the first time. It has changed a fair amount in terms of the displays and I think the quality is even higher. It covers a lot of the history of Tallinn and in particular focuses on the military history and the fortifications of the city.

We also ended up visiting the Estonian National Maritime Museum (Eesti Meremuuseum) in another tower known as Fat Margaret (Paks Margareeta).

For dinner that night we went to a restaurant know as Olde Hansa. It is a medieval themed restaurant and it definitely has some great atmosphere. It isn't somewhere I would recommend anyone go to if you are a picky eater, nor if you are trying to save money. The most expensive single dish on the menu is Bear and it costs 55€. We both went for something a bit cheaper and split the dessert which was a sort of apple pie with almond milk. It was amazing. So was the Warm-Up drink which we had. It was some sort of spiced apple cider type drink. Om nom nom!

Sunday was our last day in Tallinn and we did our best to enjoy it. We took one more of the sightseeing bus tours, this time around some of the older suburbs of Tallinn. Afterwards there was some more wandering around the city for some last minute photos, souvenirs and postcards which resulted in me finding a Star Wars babushka doll, as well as a stop for lunch once more at the Reval and a hot chocolate at the Chocolaterie de Pierre Cafe in the Old Town. My cousin first introduced me to the Chocolaterie in 2007 when I visited. It is a cosy cafe that makes you want to do nothing more than sit down and relax with a nice warm drink and maybe a bit of dessert too.

All in all it was a fantastic, jam-packed weekend in Tallinn and it definitely made me realise how much I haven't seen and want to see when I next visit.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with Tallinna Toomkirik in the background.
Taken from Kiek in de Kök tower.

View of the lower part of the Old Town from the viewing platform on Toompea Hill.
Where would you like to visit?

Entrance to the Old Town.
The old Town Hall.

Photo credits go to my friend Christina who took some great photos whilst we were there.

~~Random Logic~~