Reading Lumikki Andersson, the Finnish girl-sleuth

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Lumikki is a Finnish-Swedish high school student with a propensity for landing in the middle of trouble that has nothing to do with her. She is independent, talented, and a little bit of a BAMF. In the middle of the Finnish winter, she stumbles upon blood-stained money (literally) and can’t not get involved. A while later, during the Prague summer, she gets involved with a dangerous cult and – guess what – can’t NOT get involved.

The Lumikki Andersson books are the kind that are action-packed, but they do require the reader to suspend their disbelief a little. This high-schooler has a lot of skills with virtually no reliable origin for obtaining them (no secret KBG-training, for example). She is intelligent and manages to outwit police officers, drug bosses and big corporates who just clearly have not managed to gain any wisdom during their many years on earth.

So if you’re going to sit back and say, “Well this is so unrealistic” then the books are not going to do it for you. Lumikki is kind of like a Finnish Nancy Drew, but less PG.

That said, Lumikki is a fun character to read. She is bad-ass and couldn’t care less about social structures at school and expectations upon her person. She has a fun way of observing the world, which I suppose goes for the author, Salla Simukka.

“Everyone was in a hurry and needed to shout about what a hurry they were in.”

At the same time, something about the writing style irked me a bit. I’m not sure that Simukka can be blamed for this as she writes in Finnish, so perhaps the problem is with the translation (further supported by the insanely good Finnish reviews compared to the not-so-great English reviews).

There is an awful lot of telling instead of showing going on. For example, from the beginning we are told that Lumikki is “the one who always ate alone, but never looked lonely. She was the puzzle piece that didn’t have its own place, but could suddenly fill in almost any hole you needed it to.” I wanted to see that happen, not be told about it in advance.

Lumikki, by the way, is the Finnish name for Snow White – not hard to figure out given the titles of the first two books. But this is not a fairytale retelling, so don’t expect one. Unless Snow White secretly hunted drug lords and cult leaders without telling any of us. The fairytale aspect is little more than an (enjoyable) plot device.

I did not enjoy As Red As Blood very much, partially due to the unrealistic aspect, and partially because drug-busts just aren’t that interesting to me. The book felt like your run-of-the-mill drug-busting movies. As White As Snow was a lot more enjoyable, perhaps because I haven’t read any books or watched any movies on the cult theme. Also, the twists are slightly less predictable and Lumikki is a more human, relatable character.

The Lumikki books are not really a series like the YA series we know – you would be able to read As White As Snow without reading As Red As Blood first. It’s more like the Secret Seven books, where each has its own unique story-line.

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That said, I am so intrigued by the final twist in As White As Snow that I simply HAVE to read the third book (As Black As Ebony). I still don’t enjoy the translation, because I suspect something is being lost there, but I can’t wait to find out what the big mystery is with Lumikki and her family. I suspect a lot of ends are going to tie up to a quite enjoyable conclusion. I hope!

Disclaimer: I received digital galleys of these books via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

Did You Know That Seeds Are Freaking Awesome?!

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I love micro-histories – books that delve into the history and specifics of one small specific thing. One of my favourites is The Big Necessity by Rose George, about human waste (and the toilet). Just for balance, my least favourite is Stiff by Mary Roach.

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson is about, well: seeds. I requested the book because the cover looked pretty cool and because, as I already said, I enjoy finding out really random and extensive things about one focused object. Continue reading

New Old Fairytales [Reviewing The Turnip Princess]

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Most kids have a penchant for fairy tales, but as a kid, my favourites were the stories my dad made up for me. Legally-blind, he made up special characters just for me that far surpassed any Snow White. Of course I loved Disney, but I only really started appreciating the Grimm Brothers’ tales when I participated in a MOOC on Coursera called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. (It’s still a hugely popular course, check it out here.)

When I saw The Turnip Princess on NetGalley I could not resist it. Franz Xavier von Schönwerth is described as a “contemporary of the Brothers Grimm” so that grabbed my attention immediately!

When reading fairytales as an adult one perhaps should not expect to be quite as transported as a child would be. That said, these tales are probably not as suitable for children to begin with. Continue reading

Ten Books for Readers who Like… The World

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish is called Top Ten Books for Readers who Like ___________.

I know that with things like We Need Diverse Books a lot of people are trying to read beyond their own milieu. I think for me, the biggest problem as a youngster was that I was constantly reading narratives about young people in the USA or the UK, and so I was getting a very narrow view of the world and indeed of what I could be.

read the world Continue reading