Books Features

Review: Embassytown by China Miéville

Embassytown, the new novel (his 9th so far) by British fiction writer China Miéville, is not your stereotypical story where aliens, humans, good and bad characters, battles, lasers, swords… appear as in one million novels before and you guess what the next chapter will be about. Miéville´s fiction is fresh, discovering a new world, Arieka, home of the Ariekei and adopted home of the humans in a twisted colonization process.

The reader can feel a bit lost at first with the amount of new jargon and the rules of the “Immer” outside world where Avice, the main character, moves smoothly, apart from never catching a real description of how many characters or the Ariekei themselves look or behave. Here and there, it is brushed some certain behavior of a character that ends up forming a complex palette in a world advocated to destruction unless that old rules and habits get broken.

China Mieville

As I said, this is not the typical non-stop action story, but a very intelligently built up exercise where semiotics, propaganda, duality, freedom and politics get mixed masterfully by the hand of Miéville (no wonder that the author wrote his PhD thesis on Marxism and International Law).

Embassytown is not easy to swallow during the first pages, but it traps you in spiral where characters are not totally evil or good, where people have to take decisions for both their personal interests and the interest of their communities, and where sometimes, telling a lie is the only path to a new truth. A great book that also hides a great exercise of semiotics that would make probably proud to Umberto Eco himself!

Blogs Books Features FREE! Blog

We give away 5 copies of Peter James newest novel: Dead Man´s Grip

FREE! Magazine and Pam Mcmillan Publishing brings you the last amazing thriller from one of the most acclaimed British authors: Dead Man´s Grip by Peter James.

Peter James

To celebrate that summer is here, nothing better than relaxing with a good book in your hands while taking the sun on the beach or close to the pool. Answer correctly to the question below, sending an email with the right choice and “Peter James contest” written in the subject of your email to free(at), or to antonio.diaz(at), and get one of the 5 copies we have for our readers!!!


To what police force does detective superintendent Roy Grace belong?

1. London police force
2. Brighton police force
3. Sussex police force
4. Liverpool police force

Good luck!!!

Books Features

Elks do not speak English by John Murolo

There are not many books published in English language that tell the experience of a foreigner living in Finland. So Elks Do Not Speak English, by English author John Murolo, is a very refreshing publication for those of you who want to know more about the Nordic country.

But this is not a book that maybe would delight all kind of audiences interested in Finland. I have experienced myself in the last decade how more and more foreigners, not only political refugees as some Finns may think, but hordes of exchange students or workers for mainly IT companies choose Finland to stay for some period of time, and in many cases the stay stretches for many more years. If you are expecting to read a book about wild University parties with drunken students dressed in colorful overalls, amazing anecdotes where people wake up not remembering what wild party went on the previous night or hints about the main cities nightlife and nightclubs, Elks Do Not Speak English is maybe not for you.

John Murolo narrates his experiences together with his wife Celia during 15 years visiting and living in Finland, coming from England, his home country. But they represent another sector of foreign population, those who after many years of hard work want to get a piece of land in this quiet country, far from main cities, and who prefer to tell anecdotes about their grandchildren than going out to the local bar. Sometimes he spends long paragraphs amazed of little details of current Finnish life. But maybe that is what makes this book slow but delightful at the same time: in the end, not only in the big things but the little details of everyday life is where you most notice the difference of living abroad.

Elks do not speak English

Murolo does not give you advice about the hottest metal bands from Tampere or Helsinki, but you will find very entertaining chapters that have to do with living in isolated communities of Finland: gardening, solving small household problems, the communication with the Finns, who are friendly but with different patterns of behavior than in many other countries, how to drink coffee always together with a pulla, how is life near a lake, sauna, fishing in frozen waters… It is also pretty interesting to see how Finland has evolved during the last decade and a half, and how some behaviors from Finns that Murolo contemplates in his book do not take place so often, at least in bigger cities, while some others remain the same with the past of time

Remember that this is a very objective narration of the author´s own experiences in Finland, so some comments and behaviors of amazement towards Finnish customs could be taken the wrong way. All in all, he manages to explain himself his love for this nation very clearly, and be honest, when you care about something or someone, there is always a small portion of healthy criticism involved here and there. Maybe the only chapter where people can feel really not comfortable is the one dedicated to Russians; there Murolo shares the widespread views of Finns about their not so beloved Russian neighbors, but let´s not forget that not all the Russians in Finland walk in Helsinki with full wallets and noses up.

If you are looking forward to stories of young blonde girls and boys drinking until losing their senses, rock and metal bands and crazy nights surrounded by snow, you are not going to find it here. But if you are interested in Finland, and especially what is to buy a property or live there outside the biggest metropolitan areas, you are going to find that Finnish Elks can be pretty entertaining, although they still will not be able to speak English with you.

Books Features

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin – Review

Swedish literature is living a golden age, not only because of the Millennium trilogy by Stig Larsson, but by many other interesting novelists such as the current one: Johan Theorin, awarded with the Glass Key prize for the best Nordic crime novel in 2008.

The Darkest Room

Theorin introduced us in his latest novel, The Darkest Room, the island of Öland, in the Baltic Sea, an island where the author has lived himself, collecting stories from the popular folklore. There, in a house by the sea, we encounter mystery when one member of the new family that had just moved in few months ago appears dead in strange circumstances. This is his second novel of a quarter located in Öland, having previously published Echoes from the Dead in 2007.

The past and the present of the island is mixed with talent by Theorin, and you can really feel immersed in what would be the routine of living in an isolated community in a Nordic country: the contrast between summer and winter, the hard storms and the sudden changes of weather conditions that can endanger lives, how news fly fast among neighbors, the solidarity, the sense of loneliness, the sea as friend and foe… Undoubtedly Theorin loves Öland, and can build the right atmosphere for the story.

The Darkest Room

Theorin is able to build an interesting plot that leads you page after page wanting to know the truth. However, from my point of view, the final is a bit disappointing, like written in a rush. The novel ends up in a middle way between being a “mystery” with some traces of horror novel (it reminds me in some passages The Amityville Horror), but it leaves you in a middle way, expecting that something “more” exciting could have happened in the end. Not the best climax after having a great tension been built up in previous chapters. But all in all, worthy to read if you want to enjoy a well written mystery book that can take you closer to the life of a little islanded community of Sweden.

Books Features

Solar by Ian McEwan

Solar is one of the strongest releases that you will find in the bookshops this year. Written by the acclaimed British author Ian McEwan, The fiction novel is, against what you would expect when looking at the cover, not so much as sci-fi book as a witty and clever description of the weakness and flakes of the human nature.

Certainly, there is some scientific talk around, but the story turns mainly around 8 years of the private life, thoughts, affairs and fortunes and misfortunes of Michael Beard, a Nobel prizewinning who is not going thought his brightest moment.

Ian McEwan

The main character is depicted raw, very far from the usual hero we could expect in other books. Sometimes you can feel some sort of affection towards him, but in general, his greediness and selfishness put him out of any empathy with the reader. However, the plot is masterly conducted, and you always have the feeling to read one more page to get to know if in the end Beard will have salvation, or punishment for his non-honorable actions.

But all in all, I was a bit disappointed when reading the final pages of the book. McEwan had made a great effort to create the appropriate climate that would lead to the ecstasies that every reader awaits when the final of a book gets closer. But the open end leaves you kind of indifferent when finishing the final page, maybe matching the personality of the main character himself: a man that at some point was touched by the hand of geniality but who ended up taking a wrong turn.

Solar is worthy a try, if not for other reasons, for the clever writing that McEwan shows one more time. But for a book that will be displayed in a position of honor in every bookshop window of the western world, I was expecting it to leave me with a little bit farther feeling of satisfaction…

Books Features

Alexander Stubb – The Naked Truth

Alexander Stubb is a Finnish politician and Minister of Foreign Affairs since April 2008. Before that, he lived and worked in Brussels as a member of the European Parliament. What you find in this book, The Naked Truth, is a collection of his columns for Blue Wings, Finnair’s in-flight magazine. Good and funny reflections about what is to be a Finnish politician in the current Europe!

Alexander Stubb

The book “per se” is totally recommended for the foreigners living in Finland just for the simple fact that WSOY, the publishing company, has had the great idea to publish a version in both English and Finnish; an excellent exercise for some of you who want to practice Finnish and read something interesting at the same time.

Although I do not know Alexander personally, it is easy to imagine him as the stereotypical young and cosmopolitan successful Finnish politician, with his Nokia Communicator and his laptop working with no rest while jumping around the European airports, between Brussels and Helsinki.


All over his 19 chapters, divided for every one of the columns, written as a kind of blog entry, there is space for about everything: the Finnish and European stereotypes, remarks about how is the every day work at the European Parliament, of comments about his personal hobbies like running marathons or trying triathlons.

It is interesting to see Stubb’s youthful and plain style when explaining things. He does not get lost in much rhetoric and explain things in an easy way for everybody to understand, connecting with the current reality, so you can really feel that he is “one more citizen” who enjoys the same than any other normal person in Finland, rock music, sports, etc… But sometimes, getting to know how Finnish are, a mixture of shyness and pride, you can feel how the protective ideas about everything that is Finnish being as good or better than the products from abroad are still present there.

In any case, the book is very entertaining and useful. Same than Finnish are always curious to catch a glimpse of their country through the eyes of the foreigners, it is also nice to see how Europe is seen through the eyes of a young European politician. I actually miss that the chapters are not a bit longer, and I also do not understand why their order has been altered between the English and the Finnish version. All in all, easy to read, and have to thank Alexander that he has focused more on a light view of life instead of on boring political speeches. But I have a complaint to make. In the last paragraph of the book, he promises to answer personally to every email sent to him. I tried to contact him in order to get some comments for this article… and I am still waiting. So hope you read this and get to contact me Alexander! A promise from a Finnish politician is… still a promise!

Books Features

The job is yours, Joey – Overqualified by Joey Comeau

Joey Comeau is one of the Canadian, artsy souls behind the Internet phenomenon A Softer World, a comic where Emily Horne's photos are accompanied by the witty, poetic words of Joey. Besides A Softer World Joey has years of short story writing behind him, as well as all these job applications. And Overqualified is actually a collection of all those application letters to different companies within the US and Canada. Joey has written them, sent them, and no, he hasn't gotten a job. Yet. You may understand why as you read the book.

Instead of listing his positive and negative sides he lists memories, emotions and crazy ideas he wants to contribute with. The letters form a story of pure craziness which makes me laugh out loud, but it also forces me to sometimes put the book down to think about what I just read. Maybe wipe a tear off my cheek.


It doesn't matter that what Joey writes has nothing to do with me, he still certainly makes it seem like it. I have no girlfriend named Susan, no dead little brother named Adrian, and I don't even share Joey's fear of night swimming. But I recognize myself and I fall in love with the intimacy that I feel. I feel less alone in the hunt for whatever none of these jobs could give me.

I understand Joey's view of the world, how intimidating and wrong everything really is. I know there are no secret admirers anymore, and that Hallmark needs that new holiday. I know what it's like to be jealous of the strangest things, I know what it's like to write those text messages when I'm wasted. I understand the questions Joey seeks answers for, and I understand the changes he wants to make. If he ever gets those jobs that is.

This is a wonderful way to write a book. Joey really managed to create something new. No matter if you're facing a period of no work and a lot of applications, or if you just have a broken heart – Joey says it like it is.

And no, Joey, I wouldn't hire you, not for any of the jobs you wanted. But you are hired as my best friend and lover, no trial period, full pay. Can you start Monday?

Books Interviews

Interview with fiction writer George R.R. Martin

American fiction writer George R.R. Martin (Bayonne, 1948) can be considered a contemporary classic of the literature in science fiction and fantasy genres. Awarded with high distinctions like Nebula or Hugo awards, and consolidated as a bestseller’s author due to the widespread fame of his saga “The Song of Ice & Fire”, Martin also provokes high doses of anxiety and gossiping in fantasy literature communities and forums around the world due to the expectation for the last 3 books not published yet that will complete the total of 7; the fifth one “A Dance with Dragons” will probably hit the bookshops before the end of the year.

George R.R. Martin

In an overcrowded room of a famous bookshop in Tallinn, filled with hundreds of fans, a talkative and friendly George R.R. Martin, accompanied by his wife Parris, answers all kind of questions that the Estonian readers shoot at him, from the sex scenes in his books and the morality of the American readers to his taste in literature. After more than 1 hour signing books to his loyal fans, we finally have the chance to talk about his visit to Finland and Estonia, his past as scriptwriter in Hollywood and of course about The Song of Ice & Fire!

Thank you for your time George. You were in Helsinki last week end and actually I know that when you were younger you wrote some stories about Suomenlinna…

Yeah, I wrote two stories about it, the fortress was called Sveaborg in past times and I wrote about the surrender to the Russians which was kind of a historical mystery, so I wrote a story in college, actually I was taking a course on Scandinavian history and I convinced the professor that I could write a piece of historical fiction.

And if I am not mistaken, you explain in your book Dreamsongs that actually the American-Scandinavian journal was the first one to reject you with those stories.

Yeah, but well, they rejected me “nicely”, so it was very encouraging, and I went on and 20 years later I dig it out and rewrote it and made it a science fiction story.

So why were you so interested about Scandinavian culture? What attracted you?

Well, it is not that I was particularly attracted. I was in college and taking history as a minor, and I took all about Western civilization and English history and American history, so I thought that I could take some history course I did not know anything from inside, and the whole thing was that Sveaborg caught my imagination, you know “the great fortress, support of the north… mysteriously surrenders to inferior forces…” Why? That caught my attention.


So you visited it?

Yes, we took a boat and spent a day there.

So it was like the idea you had in mind?

Actually, it was not like in my imagination. It was very pleasant; there was a park, trees and children playing, while in my stories all is very grim and military. In the story is middle winter and the bay is completely frozen, so it was very different from the story, but still, nice.

And here in Estonia, is this your first time?

First time in Estonia, yeah.

Did you plan to come here beforehand, or just took advantage of the visit to Finland?

The Finns approached me 3 years ago. I schedule my calendar 3 years in advance and the Finns asked if I would be their guest at Finncon, so I agreed and put it at my website and a few months ago my Estonian publishers noticed that and asked if I could come to Estonia and do some signing. I must say I have had a great time here; I have got to meet all my Estonian readers, so that was a thrill!

During last year you were presenting the book “Songs of the Dying Earth”, an anthology tribute to Jack Vance, a book you have edited together with Gardner Dozois. What can you tell us about it?

Yeah, actually it is coming out right now, I have not seen a copy yet myself, but just before I left the publisher wrote me that he was picking copies from the printer and he would mail them to me, so they would be hitting the bookstores right now.

Your fans seem to be very focused on your advances with the Saga The Song of Ice & Fire. Do you receive many emails when you do this other projects about why you do not focus on the saga?

Yes, we do unfortunately. There are fans who are just interested in The Song of Ice & Fire and they do not want me doing anything else, but they are the small minority. The majority of my fans are very supportive, they write me wonderful letters so well, I like doing different things, you know, I love Ice & Fire and I am working on it and that is great, but you cannot do just one thing 24 hours a day, and I have a lot of interests: I like editing books, I like reading books, I like working with Gardner and of course I like Jack Vance and that book honors his magnificent career.

There has been confirmation that The Song of Ice & Fire will be turned into a TV series by HBO. Is true that you keep the right to write the script for one chapter a year?

Yes, it is true; I will write one script per year for the TV series.

You worked previously in Hollywood writing scripts for series. Are you excited having the chance to write scripts again?

No… I mean, I am looking forward to it, but I am not “that” excited about it… It will be more exciting when it gets produced. That will be fun!

I read that you were actually not that satisfied with your experience working in Hollywood. What didn’t you like there?

I was there for 10 years. The first 5 years I was in two shows, The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast, and you know, I had my frustrations on those shows, but mostly it was quite satisfying, we did some good work, it was film, it was produced, it was broadcasted, people saw it… that was all good. But the second 5 years I reached a stage where I was doing “development”. I was developing ideas for shows on my own, and also doing featured films, doing movies, writing scripts and in that case, these things… you get paid a lot of money, more than working on a show, but they do not necessarily make anything. You write a movie, you re-write a movie, you spend 1 or 2 years working on it, and then they decide that they are not going to make the movie. Then you develop a pilot again, you spend 1 year on it, they film a pilot, they drop it, that happened to me once… maybe they do not make the pilot and read the script and say “well, this is good but we have this other show that we like better”. So after these years I had much more money, but emotionally it was very unfulfilling, it was very frustrating. I do not want to write a script, develop characters for 1 year and then nobody see them except a few executives in a room. So I wanted to be back to books where I know I had a real audience.

Is not weird that they will start the filming of the TV series, but still nobody knows the final for the Song of Ice & Fire (apart from you)? When they start to shoot the beginning, they do not even know how it ends…

Yeah, sure they don’t. I am going to be wasting them! Well, they are going to do 7 seasons and I am doing 7 books. They are going to do a season a year, but it is taking me 2-3 years or sometimes more to wreck these books, so I don’t know, hopefully I can finish the 7 books before they get to the seventh season! Hehehe…

HBO did also the series “Rome“, that you mentioned earlier that you love it.

Yes, Rome was wonderful!

There is a lot of political intrigue there, the same that in your saga of The Song of Ice & Fire. Do you feel especially interested by power games?

Yeah, I find that entertaining and kind of stuff I love to write about and love to watch on TV. Rome was a wonderful series at every level. It was gorgeous to look at, the acting was superb, and the writing was superb, so hopefully Ice & Fire can be as good.


When you read The Song of Ice & Fire and you read The Lord of The Rings, I find some similarities in the way they display worlds in decay: the last dragons, the elves leaving Middle Earth, the magic getting lost… the reminiscences of a more splendid past. Are more intriguing these periods when things are getting lost to write about?

I have a certain attraction towards twilights. You can see that in my work, if you read my first novel “Dying of the Light“. There is something about it that it is very evocative to me, the twilight world, and the world between the edges. Maybe there is something about me psychologically, I don&’t know! Hehehe…

It was recently published in your website that there will be soon a videogame about the Ice & Fire saga.

Yes, a French company called Cyanide got the rights to make 2 videogames, a real time strategy videogame and a role videogame, so I am going to be meeting with them in Montreal in a couple of weeks, the project is still at very early stages.

Do you play videogames?

I play occasionally, I would not say I am a big videogamer by any means, but I play some, especially real time strategy games, I like strategy games.

The one dollar million question that most of the fans are wondering around the world: How is Dance of Dragons going (the awaited fifth book of The Song of Ice & Fire saga)?

It is going pretty well actually, I am hoping to finish it by September or October that is my goal.

Me and Martin

You started writing the first book of the Saga, A Game of Thrones, in 1991 and published it in 1996. Now, when you look back at it, is there anything you would change?

Hum, I may have structured it so that the kids could grow up a little more, so that months pass between the chapters instead of only days between the chapters, but you know, if I would have done that it would be a much more different book than what I have, so I don’t know if I would really have done that, but looking back at it, if I would have done that it would have solved now problems that I am encountering. On the other hand if I would have done that I could have created other problems, so you know, what I have here is working pretty well, but that is the only thing sometimes I wonder about.

For me, and I suppose that for most of the readers, it was really shocking when Eddard Stark got killed in the first book of the Ice & Fire saga. For example nobody would ever expect Frodo getting killed at the beginning of Lord of the Rings. Did you want to break concepts and mark a new line with that conception, did you know from the beginning that it would happen?

Oh yeah. Well, you kill an important character right on and you kind of establish that you are not playing for kids, you know, that it is not going to be that kind of fantasy where the hero goes through all kind of dangers and never gets scratches.

From the characters of The Song of Ice & Fire, is there any that you would feel especially identified with?

Tyrion Lannister. He has always been one of my favorite characters. They all have parts of me but Tyrion has changed together with me more than any other of the characters.

Books Features

Beyond the Frontiers of Imperial Russia

Born in 1832 in the island of Uto, Finnish Otto W. Lindholm´s life was always full of adventure. He travelled the world several times, and gained an excellent reputation in the most exclusive aristocratic circles of the Imperial Russia. The recollection of his amazing journeys has been not lost thanks to his great grandsons, Alexander C. de Haes-Tyrtoff and Nicholas Tyrtoff Davis, the editors of the current book who dedicated 4 years of effort  to the publication of Lindholm´s memories. A unique life of a unique Finnish man that you should not miss!

Book cover

After reading the memories of Lindholm´s life, I was certainly impressed with his achievements. His life was not easy, but we are facing a man who is able to endeavour the most impossible tasks with a decision made of steel. The young Otto had certainly to grow fast, losing his father at the age of twelve and enlisting on a whaler to sail around the world. He is the ultimate definition of resolution, a man shaped by the experience and the will to improve and escalate in the social circles. Nicholas Davis, one of the editors of the book, defines perfectly the image that could remain of Lindholm after following his wanderings around the globe:  “The picture that remains in my mind is that of being a captain of a whaling ship in 1859 at the age of 27 years and shows what he was capable of for the rest of his life; the courage to confront unknown dangers and to take responsibilities in dangerous situations; his strongest points are to learn and to know in detail everything that was new – the how and the why (steam-engines, gold mining, surveying, constructions, etc.). His weak points: like every human being he must have had weaknesses but they really don’t appear in his writings. He certainly was stubborn.

Lindholm was an educated man who put a great interest in finishing his studies with the best grades. But you can notice throughout the book that maybe his biggest moments of pleasure are when he is in full contact with the nature, trying to find his way in the middle of isolated landscape in North Russia or pursuing a whale in the vast ocean. Nevertheless, coming from a relatively humble family, you cannot miss that he really finds pleasure in collecting meticulously every new friend from the high aristocracy that he meets and the honours that provided to him.

Although born in what is today the territory of Finland, the references to the country happen just from time to time, when the young Otto comes to Helsinki to finish his studies after his first experiences in a whaler, or years later when he comes back renting the best carriage of the city. But the Finnish capital was never one of his favourite ones, although he had a good time with old friends there, always considering it in a way inferior to many other cities that he had visited around the world in that time. It is also very curious to see his trips through the United States or Japan, and how he was able to foresee many changes that would happen years later. Lindholm seems to have had a distinctive good sense for making business as far as analyzing situations and people in every particular situation, and that led him to be a successful captain and later business man. Although he was a tough man and did not hesitate to use the force if needed, you can see also his more human and fair side: in several moments around the book, he shows an unusual mercy and flexibility towards the boat crew, even if they misbehaved. Lindholm showed that was not only a brave and clever man, but also a kind one who could understand the feelings of the men around him, but could also hold a firm authority if needed.

Travelling one million kilometres and 17 times around the world

It is a pity that there are not more graphic memories of Lindhom´s trips.  Unfortunately most of his photographs were destroyed in a fire in the year 1905 that affected his library. Nicholas Davis calculates that “Otto Lindholm travelled 17 times around the world. If one considers that one had to travel in the 19th century from Europe to the Pacific and the Far East by way of Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope one can easily estimate that he probably travelled over one million kilometres in his life time“. An amazing statistic even nowadays, so imagine with the technical difficulties that any traveller would have to face in the 19th century!

whale hunting

The book is pretty recommendable for those of you interested in Finnish history and travelling. Not so many times you have the chance to read such an eloquent narration of adventures all over the world; In fact, I have a warning for animal lovers: maybe you will not enjoy this book. The description of killing whales and many other animals like bears, foxes, etc, are sometimes quite meticulous. But take into account that these men were travelling with no catering service close to them. Hunting for them was in many cases not only a hobby (although in some parts of the book they also go hunting for fun with the aristocracy) but a ways of surviving in a wild environment.  Sometimes I just miss that Otto would share more details about his private life and family relations instead of the accountancy of all the dinners and parties he gets invited, but obviously, he was finding more interesting to account about his social developments, keeping (as a good Finn) his role as caring husband and father for himself.

The Russian city of Vladivostock celebrates in 2010 its  150 years of existence, and due to the great effort that Lindholm made to develop the city, both great grandsons Alexander and Nicholas have been invited to the festivities. Nothing better like finishing the description of Lindhom with the final resuming words by Nicholas about his ancestor:

Otto Lindholm certainly sought adventure, was daring, headstrong and fortunate, but always with this humanitarianism which finds something honest in every man. He is also someone who knew that a favour would be returned one day, who saw in everyone opposite him a potential friend. Ambitious, Otto certainly wanted to be well known, but he also wanted it for others and his family.  He had a natural talent for business but was also someone who could foresee opportunities; he had a foreboding for the precariousness of life, just like an ice-pack which one thinks is secure but might suddenly break up when the wind turns. He also knew that from any hopeless situation one can always survive through hope and human courage”.

Books Features

Books for everybody

{mosimage}Christmas is around the corner, and choosing presents for relatives, friends or your couple can give sometimes more than one headache. If you are Finnish speaker, if you want to give something nice to a Finnish speaker, or if you just simply want to improve your Finnish skills reading something interesting, FREE! Magazine gives you some tips about what Finnish books to buy. Because you are worthy to experience the pleasure of turning pages instead of sitting in front of your computer like a robot!


{mosimage}Vesala, Paula – Luoti, Mira – Kostiainen, Pasi – Ylönen, Hanna

An excellent book with quality cover, a bunch of great pics and many anecdotes that go through the career of the famous couple of female Finnish singers: PMMP. If you have never heard their catchy version of “Pikku Veli” at a pub or a bar, probably you are dead or your social life is equal to the amoebas. If your girlfriend is a fan of the band, go for it. If you are a heavy metal die-hard…maybe you can skip it. 


{mosimage} Heusala, Kari

Naisen Orgasmi

Top 2 in the most popular books list of Like. I wonder why…  Sexologist Kari Heusala writes a complete manual about how to lead your woman to the maximum pleasure. If you think that your girl fakes her orgasms, if she openly confessed you that she never had any, if you still get lost trying to find the g-point, this book is for you… and the other thousands of readers who will soon make it reach number 1 in the top sales list.


{mosimage}Finnish Design Yearbook 08-09

Edited by Anne Veinola

This one is in English language, so easier to target at a wider audience. If you are crazy about design and about Finland, then this is compulsory for you to pursue; great design by Top Dog Design and also great price.  The book is maybe not affordable for every pocket, but worthy if you want to own/give as present something classy and stylish.


{mosimage}Tamminen, Petri

Mitä onni on

Tamminen has written one of the hottest titles nowadays.  What is your definition of luck? This book has everything: philosophy, travelling, sensuality…  Sounds like a good plan to read on a snowy Sunday evening! 


{mosimage}Schatz, Roman

Pravda. Totuus Leningrad Cowboysista

When the most famous foreign writer in Finland writes about one of the most epic rock Finnish bands, the Leningrad Cowboys, combination can be explosive. You can love him or hate him, but usually Roman Schatz does not leave anybody indifferent.    

Books Features

Riding with the devil’s girl – Exclusive with Juho Juntunen

Like and Juho Juntunen join forces in Paholaisen Morsian, a crazy story full of humour, pretty girls, motorbikes, leather, alcohol and blood.

From the twisted mind of the famous Finnish rock journalist Juho Juntunen comes a new and original book: Paholaisen Morsian (The Devil’s girlfriend), a non political correct work that suits very well with Like’s policy of taking higher risks than the other mainstream Finnish publishing houses. An exhilarating story that can get read like a comic and could remind you a visual script of a failed Tarantino´s film.

Sharp dialogues (the book is only available in Finnish for the moment), pretty girls, hard guys dressed in leather riding motorbikes, gore action and tones of fun with a very typical sense of Finnish humour indeed, where drinking is always mixed with the fun.

Paholaisen morsian

"I got this idea a couple of years ago. I’ve been doing comics and cartoons for a long time and it’s really lonely – it’s only you, some background music, a pencil and a paper. So I thought that maybe I could use my friends. Do some work and party with them at the same time. I’m a big fan of B movies and I really respect movie directors like Russ Meyers, John Waters and yes… Tarantino. So it was clear to have some sex, bad behaviour, lots of booze and Satan himself in this comic book movie", Juho explains to FREE! Magazine.

Although at the beginning you can get shocked with the feeling of reading a bad script for a B-movie, the book catches the attention soon, it is easy to read and very entertaining. Juntunen counts with the collaboration of many well-known friends: Tuomari Nurmio as God, Jussi Lampi as the devil, Jouni Hynynen as Jesus, the singers Katri Ylander, Agnes Pihlava and Hanna Pakarinen as ex-girlfriends of the main character or our dear friends of Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy, as aliens coming from a bad dream, among others.

Everybody wanted to be part of the fun (I personally miss Jone Nikula being part of the action, since the guy seems to have to be everywhere when there is an event or happening related to metal music, Idols singers, magazines or books…), and alas that you cannot avoid laughing at the twisted and stupid situations that appear in the book once after another.

“Those people were pretty anxious when I asked them to do their roles. In fact, nobody said no. The timing was the only problem. Some rock stars like Ville Valo of HIM, PMMP girls and Jyrki 69 had so tight schedules that we couldn’t arrange the photo shootings” tells the author.

Juho Juntunen

Reetta Weidlich as the “innocent” virgin stripper appears deliciously sexy in every sequence, but some photographs are not recommended for sensitive stomachs, due to the appearance of great amount of blood and viscera when the zombies enter into scene.

Included with the book there is a cool CD that acts as a soundtrack, a nice detail for the buyers. I knew that if I’m doing a comic book "movie", a soundtrack album is a must. Most of those songs were recorded especially for this project and the bands were really into it. I’m really proud of the main theme written and recorded by Honey B and the T Bones. It has just the right Tarantino feeling! Listen to that guitar twang! affirms a proud Juntunen.

And the experience really seems to have brought tones of fun for the author and his crew, since they are even thinking about the possibility of repeating the experience and creating a sequel for next year: It was fun to notice that it was unnecessary to do any makeup for the actors. Bikers, zombies, strip tease dancers, Satan worshippers – they all looked just like that in their own. Even the leading lady used her own costumes. The only problem was that one booze factory was supporting us and sometimes the actors were pretty drunk. But anything for ART – even alcohol! Juho jokes.

Books Interviews

When disability turns into virtuosity – Interview with Kaisa Leka

Editor of a yoga publication, graphic designer, cook, politician, teacher, traveler, comic artist… Kaisa
has not had an easy life. She had to take the terrible decision of getting her legs amputated due to an illness. But she has learnt and taught how to see the positive side of life and make the most of it!

Who is Kaisa Leka?

I’m a 29-year old artist, designer, teacher, and politician… a typical freelancer. I live in Porvoo in an old wooden house with my husband and our ridiculously large collection of toys, books and old typewriters.

How did you start to draw comics?

I drew comics as a child, and started again when I was 19. I fell immediately in love with how easy it is to both read and draw comics; it’s a really easily approachable art form. This enables me to deal with difficult issues such as disability and reach readers who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a book about it.

Kaisa Leka

What is different in Kaisa Leka´s comic strips from other authors? Most of the times, there are some characters that appear repeated while having dialogues. Can you explain a bit more about them?

A friend of mine said that my comics are like TV’s sitcoms, and I think it’s a pretty good way of describing them. No fancy drawings, exciting car chases or pretty girls with big breasts, just simple drawings and thoughtful texts. Or at least I hope they’re thoughtful!

I suppose the amputation of your legs it is something quite dramatic and a turning point in your life. Do you want to discuss openly about it? Is your wok I
am not these feet
directly aimed at that experience?

I was born with a disability that first seemed to only be a cosmetic one, but turned out seriously restricts my ability to move. I decided to have my feet amputated, with the consent of my doctors. With I am not these feet I wanted to let healthy people take a peek into the life of
disability, and also share my experiences with others who have had to spend time at a hospital. A lot of people have appreciated the way I’m breaking the tradition of silence and shame surrounding
disability and sickness.

You are active in other roles, such as politician. What things need to be improved in Finland for us, the young generations? Is Finland a country that pays a lot of attention to culture?

We have a great system of social security in Finland, but it’s built for people who have traditional 8 to 4 jobs, not for freelancers. Our generation isn’t going to have those jobs, and the system has to be adjusted to our needs. When it comes to culture, I think that the focus needs to be shifted from the masters of the 19th century to today’s artists. Culture is still often seen as something that can be supported if there’s some money left over from the "real investments", and if there is money it’s spent on projects celebrating the works of people like Sibelius

Kaisa Leka

I can see that you are also very interesting in cooking and yoga.Tell us a bit more about those hobbies, and the works you havepublished about it.

I used to be the world’s lousiest cook, considering macaroni and ketchup to be a full meal. But then I met my
husband, whose food is the best I’ve ever had. Cooking has become more than just filling the belly, it’s a way of spending time with my husband and our friends, and experiencing new tastes. As a part of my
campaign for the parliamentary election this year I was able to publish a cookbook with two other Green candidates, and share some of our recipes with the Finnish public. A larger cookbook containing
more of them is one of my long-term plans.

Last year I did a book on bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion, with a friend. As you might imagine it hasn’t been a huge financial success, but as I publish my books myself I can also publish stuff that’s not
aimed at the mainstream audience. We had a lot of fun doing the book, and have gotten some enthusiastic feedback for it from other practitioners of bhakti yoga.

You also publish a magazine, Ananda, with other friends. How is that project going?

Doing a magazine means a lot of late nights by the computer and long days working for others to finance the magazine. But it seems we’re doing something right since we were just named the Quality Magazine of the Year! A lot of people are interested in yoga now, and we want to offer a deeper look into it, as it’s so much more than just plain stretching. Through our own magazine we can let people who usually are invisible in the mainstream media get their voice heard.

Now other young female comic author, Milla Paloniemi, is getting quite popular in Finland. What do you think about her work?

I’ve only read a few of her strips but, to be honest, it’s not one of my favorite comics. But of course I’m glad
that a comic by a young female author is getting so much attention and making it easier for others to get their work published. I’ve held a lot of comics’ workshops for children and students, and I’ve been happy to see so many young girls doing their own zines and taking over this art form previously reserved only for men.

Kaisa Leka

One of your passions is traveling. You did a comic stripe saga about traveling for us in the past. In how many different countries have you been, and what are your favorite ones after visiting?

I’ve traveled quite a lot in Europe, and also visited USA and India. Traveling is my big weakness, even though I know it’s really un-ecological to fly around the world all the time! I do offset my carbon emissions through and try to minimize my emissions in my everyday life by using public
transport and saving electricity.

My favorite places are Philo in Northern California and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, India. They’re places that I’ve visited with my spiritual teacher and dear friends, and homes to many Hindu temples and monasteries.

The good thing about being a freelancer is that I can work like a madwoman for a few months and then take some time off to travel. I guess I could say that my secret to finding enough time
for everything is avoiding housework at all costs.

I have seen that some of your works can be found in French, but is it possible to find English versions (apart from the stripes you did for FREE! Magazine)?

I’ve published several comic books in English, the newest ones are On the Outside Looking in (2006, 160 pages) and Little Fish Big Fish (2007, 30 pages). I’m also planning to publish a collection of comics that have been featured in different Finnish magazines, but I’m waiting until I can put together a really big book with them. It’ll probably be in English, or at least have subtitles.

What are your future projects?

I’m currently working on a new big book about a friend who gave up his graphic design studies, left his hardcore band and became a Hindu monastic. I’m really fascinated about the way he completely changed his life. I’m also going to publish a series of short stories based on Indian mythology; Little
Fish Big Fish
is the first one of them. And I just bought eight new sketchbooks (I was afraid they’d stop selling them so I decided to get a big stash) for my sketchbook blog,
so I guess I’ll also keep doing that for quite a while!

Books Features

Once upon a time in America

The first couple of decades of the 20th century saw a melting pot of people arriving
to Michigan’s Copper Country in USA in search of a better life and work in the mines: Polish, Swedish, Scottish…and Finns, many Finns.

The search of hope turned into disaster for many families, mostly with Finnish roots, with the
death of more than six dozen people in 1913 at the Italian Hall in Calumet, a small village in Michigan that was at the center of the mining industry of the Upper Peninsula.

American-Finnish author Steve Lehto narrates in his new book: Death’s
Door. The truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder
, how there were many circumstances and inaccurate stories around the tragedy that, even almost one century ago, in need of getting an appropriated explanation.

Death Door

“My family is from the area where the story took place: Michigan’s "Copper Country."  There is a large Finnish community there, even to this day, and this story is legend in that community.  My family was not directly involved in the story but I had always heard about it growing up” says Steve to FREE! Magazine. And no wonder that many decades ago, the Italian Hall tragedy is still very present in the minds of the Finnish community of Michigan.

If you take a look at the list of victims, Finnish names appear in the biggest proportion. Adding the special dramatic circumstance that the majority of victims were just little children who were crushed to death in the stairs of the Hall, were a Christmas Party was being celebrated for the families of the mine workers on strike and presents and candies were handed to the smaller ones.

The main mysteries around the case turn around topics like: did somebody cried fire and provoked
the tragedy or not? Were the doors open or close? Was somebody from the Citizens Alliance the responsible of what happened? Questions with no categorical answers in the book. Lehto recognizes that one of his main goals was to solve some mistakes that he considers appeared before in another book loved by many inhabitants of Michigan area: Rebels on the Range, as well
as solving a historical debt with his community: “The ones I did speak to — about more recent events in the story — were very receptive to the idea.  It seems that everyone thought it was long overdue".

Steve Lehto

But more fascinating than trying to find a guilty person, the book turns to be extremely interesting for having a deeper knowledge of American history, and the worker’s movements and strikes against the power of the proletarians and the mine companies´ owners during the first decades of 19th century. A great effort of
documentation and historical research is clearly poured in the pages of the book. The author reckons: "I cannot begin to estimate the time spent — it would be countless hours.  I know it was about a year or a year and a half from when I first thought of the book until the book was finished.  The research is the hard part; the writing is the easy part".

Being an attorney, Lehto cannot avoid finding a special fascination about the legal aspects that surrounded not only the Italian Hall massacre, but all the happenings around the miners` strikes beforehand. A story that has its own heroes and villains personified by characters like the prosecuting attorney Lucas or the president of the company Calumet & Hecla James MacNaughton.

For those readers interested, this is not the first book written by the author. Previous works include a biography about the fascinating car driver Bobby Isaac and other related to Chrysler’s Turbine Car project of the 1960s. But as he admits about the present work on the facts happened in Calumet
“This book is more of a straight forward history book”.

And indeed it is. For those who are expecting to find a final and definitive answer to the dark sides
of the Italian Hall story, the book can maybe result not as enlightening as they would hope.

Face the book more like a history lesson, easy and entertaining to read, where you can look back
at the past and see old stories of emigrations and memories of your grandparents and how they believed in a better life and the power of workers, but where (as it remains until nowadays) there was also a dark side in the American dream with a lot of space for conspiracies and corruption.

Books Features

Discover Helsinki

This summer two new books about Helsinki were published. They are not the usual tourist guide. The Vice Guide to Helsinki and You Should Be Here! show a cheerful and modern city and discover its untold secrets. Timo Kühn, long time contributor of Vice Magazine, explains to FREE! how the Vice Guide was created.

“You can’t tell what’s amazing when you live there every day

Timo K&uuml

Admittedly, Helsinki is tucked away in a dark, cloistered corner of Europe, emanating a
certain inaccessibility to the garden variety traveler. That is, if it gets any notice at all. Enter Vice Magazine, their Finnish contact, decade long Helsinki inhabitant, Timo Kühn, along with a handful of talented natives, and funding from the Helsinki city Tourist & Convention Bureau,
only after forewarning that the publication must have a free hand.  As to be expected of the notoriously
controversial publication, Helsinki, illuminated through the trademark humor of Vice Magazine, has created some dispute. As Kühn replies though, “when somebody gets stoked or somebody gets
upset, you’re doing something right.”

We wanted to have a different angle on the city,” Kühn expounds.  Indeed. 
The opening article, From a Distance, is written by Helsinki’s adopted children, Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry from the band the Handsome Furs. What does a foreigner see or think about Finland? Hackneyed, preconceived images of ice hockey and Alvar Aalto?  Fortunately no, rather something more along the lines of good people, art, music, and despite what some in those Mediterranean countries might think, the food is good too. Kühn says, “they fell in love with Helsinki so that’s what we could understand, why the city is amazing. You can’t tell what’s amazing when you live there every day.”

Vice Guide to Helsinki

So rather than the run of the mill tours and landmarks found in a traditional Fodor’s or Lonely Planet book, Vice dishes the dirt on homegrown bands and local favorites. “We thought it would be better than telling more than one story,” Kühn says, “a guideline for finding your own fun. It depends on what kind of interests you have.” Drinking culture, as to be expected, is integral to Finnish life. Even still, “the Kallio piece tells a lot about Finnish mentality,” Kühn explains. There’s a lot more to it than “the harshness of Helsinki or nice bars, cool people.” 

The work that went into the project highlights a lot of the surging talent in these parts that, due to
the generation gap, Kühn laments “never gets utilized.” The intricate map of Helsinki, illustrated by Vilunki 3000, known for his long standing in the music scene and talent for
album cover design, was put together in a shockingly tight six days. Photos from Pekka Niittyvirta, Oskari Nolla, Riku Pihlanto, Miika Saksi, Jan Konsin, Sanna Charles, Joe Yarmush, and Mikko Matias Ryhänen capture Helsinki’s varied landscapes, alternately industrial and beautiful, but mostly the young people driving it forward. As Kühn says, “you cannot underestimate the value of young people’s ideas. There’s a certain group who are talented, but no one gathering everything together to market outward, which is what I tried to do with the guide. Something is starting to bubble.

You Should Be Here!

To cater to Eurovision madness back in May, Bulgaria Magazine put out a comprehensive, sometimes tongue in cheek, guide to Helsinki, You Should Be Here! Though sadly not on as prominent display around town now as then despite the influx of tourists (i.e. people with money who almost guaranteed do not speak Finnish) in the summer time, You Should Be Here! remains a helpful resource even for those who live here year round.

You should be here!

Even if Helsinki appears to be a small city, cracking open this guide unlocks a wealth of places yet untapped and amusing cultural tidbits.  Perhaps you’ve been too lazy to explore your own neighborhood yourself, spending your time in the over-crowded, tourist attractions. 

Maybe you’re the last person in town to not know Kallio is packed with bars, or you’ve been too overwhelmed by the choices to hit any of them up.  Or you want to deck yourself out in Finnish
fashion, but are bored of Marimekko. You Should Be Here! paints a new urban portrait for the city, or at least one from the perspective of what the talented youth of the city are making, breaking, and of course, drinking.  I, for one, was previously ignorant of the refreshing properties of fisu.

While Vice Magazine has put out on even more recently a pocket-sized guide to Helsinki, the Bulgaria book has the practical advantage of depth: more neighborhoods covered, shops, the karaoke taxi, even local history.  By virtue of being put out by Finland’s most offbeat design team, You Should Be Here! looks great as a coffee table book, completing your collection of Taschen, Rizzoli, and even color coordinates with the Phaidon Design Classic three volume set. Most importantly, You Should Be Here! serves as a reminder of why, indeed, we are here.

Books Features

Cartoon tracks

{mosimage}Comic artist and illustrator Marko Turunen (b. 1973) recently
received the much appreciated Puupäähattu Prize handed by The Finnish Comic
Society. His latest album
Lihat puntarissa (Meats On the Scale)
combines ordinary with extraordinary, animal figures with domestic violence and
alcoholism, all served in fiercely bright colours and flavoured with black
humour. “My mother has told me that life is suffering and so it is meant to
be”, Turunen states appropriately, “but I refuse to see life merely as a
painful journey”.

Turunen continues by describing
life as an absurd theatre play, which is the way it appears in his comics as
well. The characters include a small but sadistic bunny who kills and practises
wild sexual relationships, a dog who is attracted to a squirrel and a jealous
giraffe who drinks too much and hits his wife. The topics are sometimes
difficult and even cruel, but mostly the cartoons only depict what is happening
inside our homes all the time.

However, the carefully added humour,
in addition to the sympathetic animal characters, together make the atmosphere
occasionally lighter and reader friendlier. For Turunen this is a conscious
effect, but he denies ever trying to please the masses.

“My continuing guideline is to
make pure comic, in which the graphics and the text complement each other”, he
states. “A completely functional result is more important than the question
whether anyone is able to enjoy it in the end.”

Indeed, for Turunen his art is also
very personal. He includes a great deal of real life events into his comics.

“In a way, the books function as
note tags on life. I also wish for the books to appear as historical documents
and to portray the period”, he concludes.

The documentary nature is visible
in Turunen's elaborate usage of actual place names, buildings and labels. These
he records through photography, since he feels bothered by the attention that
public drawing awakens.

Whether Turunen enjoys the
attention or not, his work has become widely appreciated, even outside Finland.
Some of his comics have been translated into English, French, German and
Italian. Turunen however seems to enjoy the independent underground status of
Finnish comic scene. Together with Annemari
Hietanen he runs a small publishing company Daada Books.

The name Daada comes from a radio
programme, in which a little boy called and complained that his mother was
making him wear a daada-shirt. When asked what this meant, he replied by
explaining that a daada-shirt was way too small and ugly. The story gives a
very modest impression of Turunen and his work, but even small characters and
ugly topics can have a massive impact.



Can you identify these three
tracks of very common Finnish animals? Here is what Marko Turunen came up with
(the correct answers can be found at the bottom of this page):

1. jättiläiskarvatasku (giant fur

Eats potatoes and wood. A
familiar sight around piles of firewood, sheds and potato cellars. Not
dangerous for people.

2. putkipiru (plumb devil)

Eats human beings. Enjoys large
population centres. Lives in sewers and plumbs.

3. lehtokääpiö (grove midget)

Rests during summers and eats
hibernating bears during winter time.

Correct answers: 1. field mouse
2. squirrel 3. hare