Author Archives: laurakurki

A Look at ARS17 Art Exhibition at Kiasma

I haven’t been to enough art shows this past winter but I did manage to visit Kiasma, the museum of contemporary art in Helsinki, for the ARS17 exhibition, which centered around the art of the digital age and was titled “Hello World!” (referencing the phrase often used to check code). ARS is a huge exhibition that shows contemporary art from all around the world and is organized about every five years or so.

kiasma art ars17 1

I really loved the pieces by Swedish artist Anna Uddenberg: she made sculptures with female figures balancing on suitcases. They look like they are doing rodeo. The sculptures are supposed to be provocative ideas of what the current It Girl would look like. Included in ARS17 there were three “rodeo” pieces and Swirl Lounge, reminiscent of airport waiting areas (pictured above, right).

Canadian Jon Rafman had two animal-themed sculptures in the show. A piece with a deer trying to swallow a gorilla is pictured above, on the left. The other piece was also a herbivore trying to eat a carnivore.

A Spanish artist Julia Varela was responsible for the black broken screens (pictured above, bottom left). The smashed pieces of electronics seem to ask whether this is all that will be left of us in a short while?

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A Russian artist Andrey Bogush had blown up a photos of the human body into one huge picture that looked like a massive curtain.

Charles Richardson‘s piece Headbone (pictured above, bottom right) consisted of a flowery couch and videos of 3D characters reflected on the wall in front of the couch. There was something strangely meditative about the whole experience. The installation was in a small darkened room in the museum so it felt like its own little world.

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American Yung Jake had made several smaller pieces about pop culture (example above, on the left), which made me think of my own childhood.

All in all, ARS17 was a great exhibition and I can’t wait to see this year’s ARS.

Link Round-Up: February -18

Long time no link round-up. Here are some things that piqued my interest this past month.

Link roundup

    • Nightly rituals to help with anxiety


3 Cute Looks for Valentine’s Day

I’ve been on a bit of hiatus since I had to find a job after my previous contract ended. But now, a month after starting my new job, I thought I’d return with an outfit post. Valentine’s Day is coming around again, which means some of us will celebrate by doing something special with our significant others or our friends. Whether you’re completely into the day of love or prefer to have a chill night with your mates, here are a few outfits for different kinds of Valentine’s Day plans.

Valentine's Looks 2018


I’m most likely going to opt for a chill night in with the hubby, a trip to the movie theater at the most, since I’m usually too tired after a long day at work (and we’ve had different celebrations pretty much every weekend since last November). However, if you’re lucky enough to have really special plans, why not doll up a bit? ;)

Are you doing something to celebrate Valentine’s?

My First Worldcon: Fantasy, Scifi & Books

MY FIRST WORLDCON EVER! Worldcon 75 was held right here in Helsinki and naturally I was there! There was so much program but I’m quite happy with the panels I saw, though some of them felt a little unstructured and unplanned. The turnout was quite something, it’s hard to believe that in the history of the con, this was the second largest as far as visitor amount goes. Yay Finland! One of my favorite moments was meeting Joe Abercrombie, who was super nice and signed my book and took a photo with me. Also, I did squee quite a bit when seeing George R.R. Martin <3 Here’s a quick rundown of the panels I attended at Worldcon.

worldcon 1

My First Novel – How to get Started
Mary Robinette Kowal, Elizabeth Bear, Erika Vik, Walter Jon Williams, Karen Lord
Many people dream about writing a novel, but never actually get started. The panel discusses the various ways one may find the inspiration and drive to actually put the pen to paper (or characters on the screen).

Karen Lord, a Barbadian writer of speculative fiction, emphasized that as a writer you have to find your character’s quirk and figure out what makes them special, because you ARE NOT your character. You can’t bring yourself into every story because, in the end, it gets boring.

The panel pointed out that writing, like many things, is non-binary. There are more than two ways of going about things. This was in reference to a view in the writing circles that an author is either a plotter or a pantser.

Their tips on getting over a writer’s block were to e.g. move to writing about another section of the story, do something else entirely, make deadlines, revise your earlier writing… or meet Gene Wolfe who apparently by his presence cured Walter John Williams‘s writer’s block.

worldcon 3

Trans Characters in YA
Leon Adams, Nick Falkner, Keffy R.M Kehrli, Nino Cipri
Is Young Adult literature more open to transgender characters than literature aimed at adults?

Much of the discussion in this panel revolved around the need for diversity in trans representation. There is too much focus on how much trans characters hate themselves, even though it is not necessarily representative of the reality (or a healthy representation of the trans experience). The “born this way” narrative seems to steamroll over all other narratives. The focus on the stories is always on coming to terms with being trans and seeking acceptance from one’s social circles, but that should not be the only story about being trans. There was a general cry for something more: “Give us the space opera or cute romance where trans people are characters among the rest and their trans-ness is not the focus. And give us stories of trans people loving themselves.” This line of discussion also raised the point about diversity in general: Why is there no representation of homeless trans PoC when in reality many homeless kids are trans? There appears to be a single narrative problem, not only in that the narrative is always about coming to terms with being trans but also in that the main characters tend to be white middle class teens. Also, the stories about trans people are often focused on characters who want to transition while not all trans people even want that.

The moderator asked whether it’s worse to have bad representations in literature than no representation at all. The consensus seemed to be that while bad representations are obviously not ideal, at least they can be used as a stepping board to something better. And the harmfulness of those bad representations can be manifested as feelings of uncertainty and doubt in trans youth who are not seeing themselves in the stories.

Continuing on about the bad writing choices in trans representations, the panel raised the point that authors should avoid technology that allows for the change of one’s sex in scifi because it erases the trans identity completely. It’s comparable to the cure narratives in relation to disabilities in scifi. Also, in general, authors should talk to actual trans people about details, such as binders, in order to reflect the reality of trans life.

When discussing the reason why trans stories might work in YA lit, the panelists mentioned that since YA readers are still in the learning phase in their lives, it makes them more open to trans characters – they are less biased. However, they also pointed out that while readers might be open-minded, the publishers can be fairly conservative.

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Estonia’s Summer Gem: Pärnu

Pärnu is a lovely little town on the coast of Estonia. We visited Pärnu with a group of friends this summer because one of our friends threw a birthday party there. Though we had never been there before, as soon as we saw the town we fell in love with the quaint houses, lush parks, and the gorgeous beach.

1 rummu estonia pärnu

We took a boat from Helsinki to Tallinn and drove from there to Pärnu. Though the drive is only a few hours, we decided to make a little detour to Rummu Quarry, which is an old Soviet prison. Now tourists go there to swim and dive. And can you blame them? Look at the amazing turquoise water in these photo!

2 rummu estonia pärnu

There are curious sand formations surrounding the prison, and the water glistens all around. It was a little tricky finding a spot where you could enter the area but a GPS is you friend in this case. Also, we ran into so many others along the way that if you can’t figure out where to go, someone else will. The area is nowadays slightly off-limits because there is a guard but you can swing by and go take a quick look at the place at least. I wouldn’t recommend a longer outing though. Before the area was privatized it was used quite freely for beach outings and swimming.

3 pärnu estonia

Pärnu is filled with huge parks, especially near the Old Town. There are also beautiful churches (that might wake you up on a Sunday morning). We even found some street art reminiscent of Berlin! The city is best explored on foot, I think, because it’s filled with gorgeous old, wooden houses and some interesting new architecture.

4 pärnu estonia

It’s easy to find good food in Pärnu. And it’s usually quite affordable! Steffani pizza place is a must try – we were recommended the place by several people before our visit. There’s one in Old Town (apparently it is slightly better) but also one right by the beach if you fancy a lunch between swimming. If pizza isn’t your thing, then the roads that lead from the Old Town to the beach are lined with restaurants that you can choose from. My personal favorite was Villa Wesset, a hotel restaurant that had THE BEST FOOD AND DRINKS (I recommend the Asian style beef soup and the creamy chicken pasta).

5 pärnu estonia

We found a nice Irish bar called Sweet Rosie with cheap, strong mojitos (winning combo!), when we were looking for a place to have a drink after a late dinner in the center of Old Town. There was a karaoke place, too, so if that’s your jam then head to Hommiku street (where we actually had a room at the Hommiku hostel). There are also lots of small beach bars, where you can get cheap ciders and beer to quench your thirst during the long hours of sunbathing. And for the night time, the Sunset Club by the beach is an easy option.

6 pärnu estonia

After a wonderfully hot and sunny weekend at Pärnu, we headed back to Tallinn and the boat to Helsinki. We took Viking FSTR cruise both ways and used our own cars for the ride between Tallinn and Pärnu.

7 tallinn estonia pärnu

Have you been to Pärnu (or Estonia in general)?

Hel-YA!: First Finnish YA Book Festival

Hel-YA!: Helsinki Young Adult Literary Convention is a brand new literature event that was organized by Kaiken Entertainment, Gummerus Publishers, Otava, Tammi and WSOY for the first time a little over a week ago in Suvilahti, Helsinki. While there are literature events in Finland, such as book fairs and Helsinki Lit, no event focuses on young adult literature, which around the world is a huge market. This has, however, now been corrected by the emergence of Hel-YA!. Here is a quick rundown of the panels at Hel-YA! festival and on the things the various authors had to say.

Hel-YA 1

In the Beginning, There Was a Story: How Story Worlds Are Built
Mintie Das, Emmi Itäranta, Salla Simukka, Johanna Valkama, Erika Vik

In this first panel of the day, many of the authors revealed how the story comes to them: some have their new character whisper into their ear while some see an image that becomes the story.
Mintie Das said that she wants to bring out women’s stories that have traditionally been hidden (hence her Storm Sisters books about female pirates). She creates her story world through these kickass characters. She also described her planning process as similar to that of a detective with a huge board filled with clues.
Salla Simukka was quick to comment to a question about strong female characters that she doesn’t like it when people use that term because no one talks about a “strong male characters”. Distinctions like that shouldn’t exist.
Meanwhile, Erika Vik writes specific messages into her Twinsuns novels, which deal with the fear of unknown, prejudice, and responsibility of media. She is also very visual in her creative process because she is a graphic designer.
Johanna Valkama, on the other hand, has a very nature-oriented approach, which definitely shows in her books about Iron Age Finland.

Hel-YA 2

For Girls, for Boys, for Others: Who Writes and for Whom?
Antti Halme, Siri Kolu, Aki Parhamaa, Anders Vacklin, Elina Rouhiainen

Siri Kolu said that she didn’t want to write anyone into invisibility. After a few years of writing the novel, she really noticed how privileged she is. She was very vocal during the panel about everyone’s right to be able to read about themselves in literature, no matter whether you’re gay, asexual, black, white, boy, girl.
Elina Rouhiainen mentioned during this panel that she has grown with her books and become more confident about stepping into other peoples’ skin. She also personally considers teenage girls fascinating, which is why she writes about them.

Skype interview with Holly Bourne

The author of the funny and uplifting Spinster series, Holly Bourne, did a special Skype appearance and was interviewed by Mintie. Bourne explained that she wanted to celebrate friendship in the series, because friendships are extremely important and usually long lasting in that age. They are more defining for teen years than romantic dalliances.
She really wanted the message in the first book of the series, Am I Normal Yet?, to be: “It’s not your fault this happened to you, so don’t beat yourself up.” The novel in question deals with mental illness and is a humorous but truthful and honest story of Evie, who suffers from OCD.
Bourne also recommended for any budding authors to read the Goodreads reviews for your favorite books if you are bummed out about reviews for your own. And her final advice to writers was “JUST WRITE!”

Hel-YA 3

Do You Want to be an Author?
Pt 1: How I Became a YA author

Katri Alatalo, Juuli Niemi, Siri Kolu

Kolu basically told everyone who wants to be a writer that they just have to become one. Simple as that.
Juuli Niemi also admitted that she thought the phone call she got from the publisher was from a telemarketer.

Pt 2: Ask from Publishers
Laura Andersson (Kaiken Entertainment), Paula Halkola (WSOY), Marjo Lemponen (Otava), Salla Pulli (Gummerus)

  • If you’re interested in making covers or illustrations, send a portfolio.
  • If you have made big changes in form or plot of your novel since last sending it to publishers, you can send it again after some months have passed.
  • You don’t need a specific education to enter the publishing world, though naturally Finnish language and literature studies help.
  • It’s good to send your script to several publishers because what doesn’t work for one, might work for another.

Hel-YA 4

All the Feels: What Makes YA a Great Genre?
Mintie Das, Emmi Itäranta, Elina Rouhiainen, Juuli Niemi, Salla Simukka

This panel started with real talk about sex. Mintie mentioned she wants it to be gritty and real because when you’re young you have all kinds of sexual experiences and not all of them are all rainbows and sunshine. Rouhiainen finds them easy to write, while Emmi Itäranta doesn’t include them in her books at all. Simukka, on the other hand, feels a responsibility to go past the kiss when writing queer romance because so often queer sexual experiences are left out and not represented at all.

Language of Dreams: Fantasy Today
Katri Alatalo, Sini Helminen, Elina Pitkäkangas, Erika Vik

This panel was about fantasy in general and the authors came to the conclusion that Finnish fantasy is fairly modest in nature. Katri Alatalo also mentioned how she views herself more through her genre, fantasy, rather than the age of the readers. This elicited comments on how in fantasy the readership is often large, varying from quite young readers to adults.

Hel-YA 5

In addition to Finnish authors, there were also video greetings from Estelle Maskame and Cassandra Clare.

Were you at Hel-YA? Have you been to any YA festivals elsewhere?

Reading Recap: 4 Books I Love #1

Yay, a new post series! I read so much that I figured I should share my favorite books with you, too! I will share four of my favorites in each post and give a short plot exposition and my personal opinion on them. If you are fluent in Finnish you can also check out The YA Diaries book blog that I write for with a bunch of other bookworms!

reading books

E. Lockhart: We Were Liars

This novel deals with self-acceptance, difficult familial relationships, morality and the consequences of thoughtlessness and mistakes. Most of the events take place on a private island of a wealthy, seemingly perfect Sinclair family, who meet there every summer. However, one particular summer is different from the rest. Now, after a two year break, Cadence, Johnny, Gat and Mirren return to the island, and their secrets as well as the mystery of Cadence’s recent memory loss are unveiled.

This book I spotted originally on social media and I got it without knowing too much about it. In the beginning I had a bit of a tough time getting into the story but once I did I was completely immersed. I don’t necessarily even like the plot that much but rather the atmosphere and style of the novel.

Sarah J. Maas: Throne of Glass -series

This high fantasy series follows Celaena Sardothien, an 18-year-old assassin in Adarlan, a land ruled by a ruthless king. After being imprisoned for a year Celaena enters a competition to become the king’s champion and, thus, earning her freedom after a four year contract. She bonds with Chaol, the captain of the guard, and finds an unexpected ally in the crown prince Dorian. However, there is something evil lurking in the castle and soon everyone is in danger. Celaena has a bigger destiny than she can even begin to guess, and the whole kingdom is at stake!

I could go on and on about this series (I couldn’t even narrow it down to one favorite book in the series) but I will try to keep it brief. I love kickass heroines who need no saving and are super sassy. And the world and different creatures in the series are really well fleshed out. It’s truly an epic fantasy (my fav kind!). I think you can definitely tell that Maas started writing very young and the first book is NOT my favorite but the series and characters develop really quickly and during the second book I was already in love. The romance plots don’t overwhelm the other parts of the novels and you just can’t help but root for the young, beautiful assassin!


Susan Ee: Angelfall

Angels of the apocalypse are destroying the human world as we know it. Street gangs, crime, fear, violence… it’s rough trying to just survive from day to day. 17-year-old Penryn is trying to do just that but when her little sister is taken by the angels she has to take action. In this case, that means aligning herself with another angel. Raffe is a warrior angel who has been attacked by his own kind – Penryn helps him in exchange for him leading her to the stronghold of the angels who have her sister. Penryn will risk everything to save her family… but can she trust her enemy?

Angelfall I discovered on Amazon while browsing for books, and I was intrigued by the premise. I think Supernatural has sparked my interest in angels and the lore around them, so I ended up buying the book and, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. While there is a fairly obvious love story going on, the angels are interesting and I like that they are the dangerous enemy, instead of some more obvious monsters. This was a very quick read and I definitely recommend it to fantasy readers, who are looking for a little break from vampires, werewolves, and witches.

Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes

The Martial Empire rules over its lands with an iron fist. Whoever resists meets a swift death. Laia is a slave girl, one of the Scholars under the Empire’s control. Elias is a soldier but also a prisoner of his surroundings. When Laia’s brother is arrested for conspiring against the Empire, she has to risk her life and trust strangers in a world that rewards trust with suffering. When Laia and Elias’s paths cross, neither knows how far the consequences will stretch.

MY NEW FAVORITE! Okay, not super new since I’ve already read the sequel as well. But new-ish favorite nonetheless. I love desert fantasy and the new kind of setting for fantasy stories. It’s nice to have a different set of lore that the author pulls inspiration from.

Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Also, gimme reading tips if you have any…I’m always on the lookout for more books :D

Fairy Tale Fashion: Disney’s Belle and Peter Pan

I still can’t get over how amazing Beauty and the Beast live action movie was, so I wanted to make a few Disney inspired outfits to keep the major nostalgia feels going a little bit longer. Belle and Peter Pan are two of my all-time favorites out of the classic Disney flicks. Belle with her bookworm tendencies is such a relatable character and Peter Pan has whimsy that is completely irresistible.

Disney: Beauty and the Beast


Belle is all about that French countryside feel. Simple dresses, light colors, and summery florals work perfectly for a Belle inspired look. Naturally, she is most known for her yellow ball gown and the blue apron dress, which makes it easy to channel her style just based on the color scheme. And how perfect is yellow now that summer is FINALLY here?!

Disney: Peter Pan


Peter Pan brings to mind earthy colors and comfortable clothes. Pan’s whimsical nature can show through fun accessories like bohemian jewelry and colorful bags. If Belle is a summery character, Pan embodies fall colors and fabrics perfectly.

Which were your favorite Disney films growing up? And did you like the new Beauty and the Beast?

Spring OOTD: Channeling Yellow Sunshine

Spring is finally here (and hopefully to stay) so I decided to brighten up my wardrobe with some summery pants. I’m a sucker for fun sale items, so when I found these cute yellow, slightly flowy, pants and the simple print top, I had to get them. This OOTD was all about comfy textures combined with fun elements like the print dog and the bright colored pants and shoes.

yellow ootd

  • Pants and T-shirt from H&M
  • Vest from Seppälä
  • Shoes from Aleksi 13

spring ootd

What changes have you made with your wardrobe now that summer approaches?

Exploring the House of Minalima in London

House of Minalima is a wonderful little building near the Palace Theatre, London, where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play is on at the moment. It is the brainchild of Miraphora (Mina) and Eduardo (Lima) who were the graphic designers for the Harry Potter movies (and now Fantastic Beasts). The building is an exhibition as well as a shop, where you can buy pretty much anything that is on display. The artwork includes issues of Quibbler, wanted posters of Death Eaters, Marauder’s Map, and much much more! All the classic props that you saw in the movies are there to look at…for FREE!

minalima 1

I guess I don’t need to tell you that I jumped at the chance to go see the House of Minalima when I visited London for the Cursed Child play with my friend. The building looks adorable already from the outside and the windows are filled with floating candles and different posters.

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The house is divided into the shop on the ground floor, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them on the first floor, and finally the Harry Potter exhibition on the second and third floor.

One of my favorite things was the fireplace that had tons of Hogwarts acceptance letters shooting out of it. I was really tempted to grab one but I guess McGonagall would notice right away that I was too old to attend Hogwarts and that I had stolen someone else’s letter…

minalima 3

The Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes section is magnificent: the colors are popping and in your face, which just makes you feel like you’re right there in their joke shop. I also loved the floors of the building, which have the Marauders’ Map printed on them.

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I definitely recommend to anyone who might be going to London, that you also go see the House of Minalima! And get souvenirs too! ;) I bought two sets of cards (one set with Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes designs and one with school books and other classic designs), which I just love love love.

Have you been to House of Minalima? What are your favorite props from the movies?