Tuesday, April 11, 2023

The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu

I randomly saw The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu at work along with another book on sisu. I was intrigued, so decided to give them a read. I started with Katja Pantzar's The Finnish Way, which tells of Katja's journey to and embrace of Finland's culture, most specifically sisu.

Sisu is a Finnish term that roughly translates to perseverance or grit. In the book, Pantzar examines a myriad of activities that she has engaged in since moving to Finland that help her build her sisu muscle, so to speak. Pantzar looks at winter swimming, saunas, getting out in nature, healthy eating, year-round cycling, movement as medicine, and embracing minimalism.

While the topic of sisu was interesting, I didn't think Pantzar's delivery of the material was particularly engaging. In every chapter she spoke with a few individuals who were experts on the topic she was discussing; the way she introduced them felt rather like she was bragging about having met them. There was also a lot of repetition in the book; winter swimming and year-round cycling came up A LOT through the other chapters. And I'm not really sure why the book was arranged the way it was; movement as medicine surely should have been one of the first chapters (along with nature therapy) as they formed the basis of Pantzar's whole book.

So while I did learn a bit about sisu, I think a different book on the topic would be a better introduction.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Court of Ravens and Ruin

I picked up Court of Ravens and Ruin at a thrift store the other day. And after a particularly trying week, I decided to give it a read, since it was a short book that looked fairly eaay to read.

Court of Ravens and Ruin is about Reyna, a redheaded, runemarked human who can craft gold fae magic staves. Reyna and her closest friends are kidnapped by the prince of another fae court because the prince wants Reyna's help. But his mother discovers them in the court and demands that the three runemarked humans from the gold court be immediately put to death; in an attempt to save her life, the prince binds Reyna to him, meaning they are now to be married. 

I really liked the worldbuilding in Court of Ravens and Ruin. Based off of Norse mythology, the fae courts are built around the world tree Yggdrasil. To travel between the courts, you have to travel along rivers that run along the tree. 

I also liked the magic of Court of Ravens and Ruin. Runemarked humans can create the magic staves that the fae use to wield their magic. This makes them extremely rare and valuable. There are five different fae courts, and all of them have their own unique runemarked humans (and their own staves). So if the runemarked of one court are found outside of that court, they are put to death to strike a blow to the other court. So even though life in a fae court is difficult, even for the runemarked humans, leaving is often impossible.

Unfortunately, I did not like Reyna at all. She was argumentative just to be argumentative, even in situations where staying quiet and doing what she is told would have been the far wiser course of action. By about halfway through the book, I found it a wonder that the Shadow Court fae hadn't put Reyna or her runemarked friends to death yet (her friends were being held and threatened with dearh as leverage to get her to cooperate). 

I also found the book a little all over the place in terms of audience. When I started reading it, I thought it was a YA book, in terms of writing. But it had some really mature elements to it that made me think maybe it's more suited for adults? I'm really not sure.

The book also ends on a cliffhanger, which kind of made me want to read more. But by that point I found Reyna too unlikeable, so I most likely will be giving the rest of the series a pass.