Posts Tagged With: lithuania

book review | When the eternal fire still burned by J. Remeika

Kai dar amžina ugnis ruseno knygos apzvalga knygu blogasAuthor: J. Remeika
Title: When the eternal fire still burned
Original: Kai dar amzina ugnis ruseno
Series: –
Genre: Folklore; Legends
Pages: 168
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

J. Remeika has put together a rare book of Lithuanian folklore called “When the eternal fire still burned“. A lot of what we had is lost due to systematic destructions we survived. And this, sadly, reminds me more of what we lost, than what we salvaged.

About the Book: A collection of short stories from across Lithuania. Most are to par in the style we seemingly enjoy here, calling ourselves the land of the lakes and rain – they’re about how this or that lake appeared there or here and why is it called that way. Some tales are repeated, as if author of this book went to another village and they had their own version. Others seemingly have sequels elsewhere or otherwise connect together. And, of course, each one teaches of the perils that await those who lack virtue.

My Opinion: So what’s my problem, you ask? These here tales are already altered greatly by christianity, even the ones where our thunder god Perkunas is an active participant. There are certain things we didn’t have, didn’t believe in, or had our own version. So it’s a bit unpleasant to read, much like witnessing someone dip sushi into ketchup, I bet.

It’s worth reading it, sure, for the language alone, for it sure changed through the years. But I can only give it 3 out of 5 and no more.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Everything, Books: Other Fiction, Mythology Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jurga Lago “Land of Rain” | Lietaus Žemė

6After reading Norse Mythology and Mythos, and then playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, where the main character is a Pict (North Scotland) warrior who ventured into the underworld to fight Hela herself, I needed more myth retellings in my life so bad. So one day, as I was in the post office, doing my thing, sending stuff out, my eye was drawn to the little shelf they have there for books. I knew nothing of the author, nothing of the book, but the artwork style on the book, and the title told me I need to have it. So I got myself “Land of Rain” by Jurga Lago (Lietaus Žemė; ISBN13 9786094413476; 184p.; Goodreads), and I was never more happy with an impulse purchase ever.

Lietuviai and Zemaiciai have fought among themselves for so long, that our Thunder God named, well, Thunder, Perkunas, sent an ever lasting rain upon the land. It would pour until these two Lithuanian tribes finally made up. So, pretty much, forever, for neither side knows nothing else but how to hate the other side! From young age folk are conditioned with stories to feed the fighting spirit. And one of the fiercest among the Lietuviai was Siurbele (Leech). He, as many other old men, still remembered dry days and sunshine. But ever since Lietuvio son has disappeared soon after birth, his fighting spirit cared for no forgiveness, and he wickedly helped those dwindling armies collide, clash, and slaughter each other. During one such battle he was about to escape to safety when he found himself drowning in a bog called Black Honey. Making peace with his gods Siurbele got distracted by a child. Scrawny, thin thing with a lisp. He claimed he knows a path out of the bog, and will exchange the information for a couple of fishies. Small price for a life, Siurbele thought, and agreed. In fact, he felt so sorry for the poor child, that he gotten him to a farmer, and being of infamous name, had that one guarantee a livelihood for the kid during many winters to come.

One rainy night, as all nights were, one of the shepherds returned weeping: a water piggy got lost, and the master will surely beat him to death for it. Zaltys (grass snake), for that was the name of the kid who saved Siurbele, told the kid to calm down, and went to search for the piggy. Being kind-hearted, he didn’t regret finding it, even if it was at the feet of the Devil.

Now, mind you, in our mythology Devil was no friend to Perkunas, and Perkunas was sort of like Thor: An eldest god below his own father. But he wasn’t an evil creature. Mischievous – maybe. But absolutely not evil.

The Devil spoke a bit, corrected Zaltys every time he lisped a word, until the boy stopped lisping, due to magic the being wielded, or the sheer terror he induced in the kid. And finally agreed to give the piggy back. In exchange, Zaltys would go to Zemaiciai. What for? Well, that remains to be seen, Devil said. And so, the very next day Zaltys took off, through forests full of godlings, beings, creatures, beasts, talking lakes, and gods themselves. He knew enough to survive, being raised by one of the Wise Men, and likely there was no one prepared for such a journey better than he. As much as he didn’t wish to go to a mortal enemy who’d likely kill him on spot, not caring one bit that the Devil himself made him come, and he meant no harm.

Zemaitis, in the meantime, had a daughter. Sure, he wished for a son to take his place, but what can one do? The girl, Lyja (Raining), was raised among the soldiers, and soon enough had no equals with a bow in the forest. Still, as fierce as she was, her father saw her as a girl only suitable for kitchen work, thus when final battle came, he had to leave her behind. And well he did, for in the dark of night, with no soldier and only old or dying men around, Lyja was the only one who had the strength and bravery to face the stranger who knocked on the door.

The story is VERY good. I’d say it’s like Sapkowski’s Witcher, but in our boggy swamplands. I loved it a lot, and I wish it was translated to English, so everyone could enjoy this beautiful mythological story. 5 out of 5, well deserved.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ruta Sepetys

ruta-sepetys  I rarely speak of authors, for there are just too many I would like to talk about. Write one good novel, and I will love you forever, sorta. But I have to say a word or two on Ruta Sepetys, a Lithuanian-American author, and her beautiful WWII novels on what was war in Lithuania.

Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys: Ruta is a flower, Sepetys is a brush!) is a Lithuanian-American author, born and raised in Michigan (Detroit). She is a daughter to Lithuanian refugees, who fled Lithuania during war, in (successful) attempts to survive. I find it beautiful, that she, having a comfortable life overseas, still looks back to this small country where her roots are. And we, Lithuanians, even if we are bitter and oppressed, we always love those who claim to be part of us (even if our gov. sometimes denies people such a chance). And we absolutely love writers. So her, being a wonderful author, probably fills every literate Lithuanian with joy to hear she writes of this small little country we live upon.

I first got to know her properly via our exclusive little book club, where someone (I didn’t know them very well then, so I can’t remember whose suggestion it was) made her debut novel “Between Shades of Gray” our book of the month. I am reluctant in reading translations, and it took me a moment to realize that English is actually original, that Ruta Sepetys is not one of those hard-core Lithuanian authors who will now attempt to depress me with what was war like stories. And as I opened the book, my good suspicions were confirmed, and bad ones – dispelled. Novel was not only easy to read, but it was filled with hope, and relentless search for humanity among evil, and cruelty. Lina Vilkas, whose memoirs we are following in this book, is an artist, taken away to Siberia with most of her family. Back then they took the oddest choice of people: the rich, the noble, and the intelligent, and her family fit the description. I really loved the book.

Some time later, and since I can’t recall when we read the other book, NetGalley provided me with a chance to read “Salt to the Sea“, a sort of other side of that same story. Same war tearing Lithuania apart. Even same Vilkas family. But not the part that was taken to Siberia, rather the other part, those who fled willingly in attempts to survive. Death peeked from every corner, Russians rampaged the soil, guerrilla war… Well, you know how successful that one ever is, if brave. Germans retreated. And all in between were civilians no one cared for unless they were somehow useful.


And of course, there’s the “Out of the Easy” book, but I have not yet read that one, truth be told. I intend to, but with my reading responsibilities, there’s little to no time for pleasure-reads. So if I can say something of the author from the two books out of three that I’ve read, is that she is indeed a something. I do like WWII books, especially the ones that are not out there just to punch you in the feels (like Book Thief was, I’d rather read Forest of Gods, or City of Thieves all over again), and these, while probably not the very best you could find, definitely on top three in that topic. And most likely a number one speaking of Lithuania during those times. Give her a chance if you need a break from regular fiction (be it YA stuff, as a friend from same club said, or just whatever other stuff you were reading constantly and feel like having a break), her books are easy to read, and aren’t all that long either. Mind you, even if they’re not there to torment you, the whole punch in the feels thing will probably still happen.

Good Luck!


Categories: Books: Everything | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banzai [1]

vlcsnap-2015-07-20-17h42m38s194  A few days ago friend of mine recommended me a Lithuanian travel show on TV. They’re in their 10th season and this time they went for Japan, which is why she recommended it. With every season they change their title and this time they’re called “Banzai“. I just watched the first episode TWICE and must say, I love it a lot (link to a legal place to watch this show for free down below, tho it’s in Lithuanian and there’s no subs, maybe you care to watch anyway).

The travelers and our heroes are Martynas (the slimmer, smaller man) and Vytaras (the bigger man). Their story this time starts with a traveler philosophy: you travel so much, and the more you do, the more you understand how little have you seen. Then there’s first views on Japan out of Airport, car, driving on the wrong lane (wrong to us), aaaand… Camera pans and I start laughing. Lemme rough-translate the quote:

Martynas: He’s buying icecream, as our tradition demands. Probably cherry!
Vytaras: No, Vanilla. Sakura.

You see why I laughed? Well here’s more (trust me, they’re not ignorant men, it’s just a little mess, excitement and other things piled up) :

Martynas: Let’s go look at the pretty Sakuras.
Vytaras: Those spruces there?

They tell us a little about sakuras. Apparently they started blooming just a day before their arrival. We love our cherries here too, thus there’s no surprise in the love Japanese show for these days of pink blossoms. The difference is in the atmosphere!


Camera pans again. Leaving the silent Japan behind and, with first few seconds of Miyavi – Selfish Love playing in the background, Martynas and Vytaras go learn how to use a Katana. Here I found out some new things too. For instance, I didn’t know the rolled up tatami for training had to be a little damp. I didn’t know that you have to listen to your sword while learning, whether it’s making “whoosht” sound or “shoosh”. It’s admirable how kind people were to them, how genuinely they seemed rejoiced whenever our lads managed to make a correct and an effective blow at a tatami.


Next destination was the fish market. It took them a serious while and a lot of officials to get in and be allowed to film. I never seen this before and never even thought about it, thus this was a nice change from the regular shows on Japan. Heck, now I even feel a little guilty for my love to Tuna. They’re huge, unlike anything I imagined before and there’s so many of them out there. Funny thing tho (or not so funny, actually), they were not allowed to get in or film where the live tuna was sold. And now we all can only wonder why. Still, it was very interesting to see how fish market works. Store officials come in with hats that have their shop title attached to it. They look through all the fish and go stand in specific places. When auction starts, they cover their hands with notebooks and show signs to sellers, bidding for fish and hiding their bid from the rivals.


From there on they move to Aokigahara, which is merely a side-trip to their true destination, which will be shown in second episode. Aokigahara is better know, to us at least, as Suicide Forest. Even if you leave your car too long by that forest – people will go into the forest to search for you. There are rangers who walk around there at all times. They talk to the living, try to help those on the edge and… Inform on other things. Naturally this duo felt extremely uncomfortable in the forest, thus they didn’t stay there long, didn’t go deep.

All in all, I loved this show. The small details were especially great: the icecream bar cost 150 yen, which is barely above one euro; road prices are high, but the roads are extremely well maintained; shoes come off everywhere, even school; Japanese youth is not very interested in Samurai studies anymore; etc. I await next episode.

Categories: The Afterlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Andrius Tapinas – Hour of the Wolf [#1]


Andrius B. Tapinas is one of those few truly, TRULY great Lithuanian authors. And since the only one I mentioned was mentioned in a rather embarrassing context, I figured this will set the scales straight. Hour of the Wolf is the first book in Steam and Stone Saga mr. Tapinas is writing.

The book is like a spiral going inwards. You start at the far end of it, Russia selling two last cities to the great Rothschilds, one of them being Vilnius, the Capital of Lithuania. You see, the Rothschilds are forming an Alliance of free cities, where alchemy of all types is nourished, all for the sake of science, of course. Thus you gasp at the Golems, the not yet forgotten art in one of the Free Alliance cities on Earth – Prague. You wonder at the murder that just happened, such precise cut that one, throat open as if with a scalpel. You are mesmerized by zeppelins and dirigibles, run not only on steam, but also on Prometel, an alchemical substance created and controlled by the Alliance. And most of all – you keep wondering of these ever appearing words – homnculus and biomics. Both, in general, are partially a frowned upon art, for it would create an insane power, for one of those things could tear through a whole squad. But at the same time – it’s something no one yet managed to pull off. All but one. A young woman named Mila, who once stepped into the view with three little automaton dolls. But not just any dolls, those dollies moved and acted on their free will! And if that’s not bad, what about the murder that happened in Vilnius? Who was the man? And what were the blueprints he had, the ones that got stolen barely a minute after his death? And who or rather WHAT killed him?

And as the circles are closing in onto the center, the story gets more intense. Mind you, author tends to slightly start each chapter on the far end of it, but just bear with it, every detail is worth something. Thus, as intensity grows, you get many mysteries solved in front of you, and if you’re like me, used to predict things, you’ll be both happy and disappointed. Happy that your deductions went to trash and yet disappointed that you didn’t suspect that, you, the great reader! All in all, book ended up with as many mysteries as it started, all different, of course, but for someone who thought this was a one-book thing – it then turned clear there’ll be sequels.

The book doesn’t truly and fully fit the steampunk genre, but the way it spilled out of the bowl was rather amazing to me. I mean, to those who strictly think steampunk is a Victorian era thing – you might be a bit too picky for this book, but those who understand that steampunk also progressed OUT of Victorian times, if you are also a fan of great alchemy-fantasy – you’ll love this. I can compare it to anime Fullmetal Alchemist for obvious reasons, I can also compare it to games of Syberia (I spelled it correctly, trust me) and many other things, but all in all, this is a perfect piece of an alternative history and I’ll give it 5 out of 5, with pride.

Categories: Books: Everything, Treasures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boil the blood

I promise it was not intentional for me to wait for next serie of True Blood to write a new entry. It just happened, because little else happened – to hot for anything to happen, to be honest. To. To. To.

So let’s start a few days back, when I was trying hard to fall asleep but couldn’t. Midsummer celebration was going on and I live not too far from lake, so I hear a lot of echoing on clear nights. This time I heard bells tolling. But in such true melody, that I can’t figure out what sort of instrument it could have been, for there’s no way they could have fit those big, this particular sound making bells anywhere out there. And sound was real clear, yet definitely sounding from somewhere really, really far away, as if muffled by something. And as the area I live in is rather forestry, I shall just presume that supernaturals were celebrating, werewolfs, fairies, other shit. Yep.

Last night it was the turn for my nose to be pleased. The Dew Celebration (it’s actually today, at 24th, but it was sunday yesterday, so I assume it was easier for people to gather) or “Saint John” if you’re a Christian (Dew Celebration is a pagan thing, we got deep roots as pagans, although we’re not the fierce barbarians who kicked crusaders arses anymore, there are still things that while christianised – are allowed to be as they were and no one ever frowns upon people jumping over bonfires, releasing flower girdles with wishes down the lake (last one to drown gets their wish first), and so on) . So the bonfire smell in the summer night air was rather pleasing.

And today, while it’s still barely even evening, I watched True Blood (S6E2). ( SPOILER ) Honestly, a lot of things annoy me. Especially people like those guys who confronted Sam about being a shifter – nobody EVER should tell someone else to fight or to hide. Nor should they take pictures from the bushes instead of helping you when you’re getting a beating. As for Bill – oh screw that part of the story. But honestly, doesn’t it feel like the last season to you? If Sookie uses her magic – she’s no longer a fae, no longer a mind reader according to series (according to books: 1) blood’s blood, you can’t spill out just some particular part of it, like ,you don’t want to be a fae, so you use up magic and puff, you’re no fae. 2) fairies don’t read minds. Demons do. Sookie had a sponsor who gave her the gift. Unrelated to fairies in any way at all.), and Bill seeing future and shit alike, gah. Books ain’t great, but series aren’t either. I’ll watch it, sure, from start to end. But I’m not pleased about the turns of events at all.

To add to that, I got 30 pages of last book of Sookie Stackhouse left. ( SPOILER ) If Ch. Harris wanted to push in a surprise, I’d say – make her stay with purple-eyed Quinn, the Weretiger. Because “got dumped by all vamps” made me yawn, for the road from there was clear, seeing why Erik decided what he decided about becoming a consort in some other state. Bill gone funny tho. With great pleasure he burst into Sookie’s home to rat out on Erik.


And this is how the serie ended. Second great ending song imo. vlcsnap-00010 vlcsnap-00001 vlcsnap-00002 vlcsnap-00003 vlcsnap-00004 vlcsnap-00005 vlcsnap-00006 vlcsnap-00007 vlcsnap-00008 vlcsnap-00009

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Graveyard in Abromishkes, Lithuania

Thus, what I promised a long time ago appears here only now. Pardon the delay, I’m a depressed person, sometimes I just can’t be bothered to do anything, even if I find it to be important to myself.

A couple months back, on a semi-rainy day I went to visit the graveyard, this time taking my camera. It was around the noon, not my usual time to leave the home, but I assumed I will look less crazy if I will snap a couple pictures of angels in cemetery while sun is “shining high” (it was cloudy, rain spat on the ground now and then). Yet I didn’t realize that in such hour there are more people, including the cemetery guards, who, while seeing a young person, with a coffin shaped bag, a leather jacket, black pants and shoes, will not take you fondly and will automatically consider  you to be “one of those satanical goth kids who come to vandalize everything” (stereotypes, I know, I know).  Being shy of people I took only a couple of picture and even those – in hurry, when I was sure nobody’s looking at me, no flash, no long adjustments.

As usual, cemetery is a quite place. Oddly enough I saw a couple of graves that belong to Muslim-religion people. I say odd not because “OMG, they shouldn’t be in Christian cemetery!” – nonsense, we all are humans, odd is because it’s a small town and I never met anyone of different religion, while I would love to. As long as they aren’t fanatics and don’t consider me somehow an infidel or pagan or anything like that just because I am up to believe any deity has a chance to exist as much as… any. You believe there’s a thunder god? Good for you, could be, why not? You believe I’m a blasphemer for that, because there is “obviously” just one God? Well… good for you too, I guess, for if we will consider narrow-mindness equal to ignorance – it’s a bliss. I don’t say you can’t believe there’s only One God. I say – don’t force it on others by calling them worse than you are, just because they think different. But here I am, babbling hell knows what.

Some graves have pre-written other family members names, that yet have no dates of the death. That would be kinda grotesque for me. Imagine coming to clean up the grave of your loved one and at same time you kinda clean up the spot that belongs to you… Don’t know. Don’t really want to. I would prefer being transferred to Sweden, where they could freeze my body, break it apart and make compost pieces out of me, on which people could plant a nice birch (my favorite tree). Other than that, when I say “clean up”, that’s because here we have these old-fashioned graves, where nobody lets grass grow on it, but instead covers it with shells, tiles, flowers and such, no such thing as a in-ground stone and cut flowers now and then. In general I don’t think people should get buried. There are less space-consuming ways to say goodbye. And population of Earth, if Momma Earth will not wipe us out a little, will require that space for buildings, malls and other horrible progress-fortresses.

Here I add pieces of google maps, to show how awful pictures are being taken on my side of the Europe and a couple of pictures I took myself.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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