New Year Book Tag

January is well underway, so it almost feels as if the appropriate time to muse about what we expect from the new year has already passed. However, when I saw the New Year Book Tag on Lauren and the Books YouTube channel, I couldn’t help but wanting to answer the questions myself. Do you remember when I hardly ever did tags? Those days seem to be progressively coming to an end.

 

  1. How many books are you planning on reading in 2022?

As I mentioned in the post about my bookish resolutions for 2022, I’m planning to read 35 books, a number higher than in 2021, but in line with previous years.

 

  1. Name 5 books you didn’t get to in 2021 that you would like to read in 2022.

I didn’t read as many books as I was hoping to in 2021. Some of those that I hadn’t the time to read but that I definitely want to pick up this year are: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey, O Círculo Virtuoso by Maria Isabel Barreno, Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, and The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld. Continue reading

‘The Mad Ship’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Set in a world where the figureheads of ships become alive, wood has magical properties and pirates have great aspirations, The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb, the second instalment in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, continues to explore the characters presented in the first book, Ship of Magic (which I won’t be spoiling), while also introducing new ones. As the plot progresses, not only do we learn more about the characters, but we also start to uncover the connection between some of the fantastical elements in the story. However, the more we learn, the more curious we become about the intricacies of their correlation.

As the book starts, many of the familiar characters are dealing with complicated situations. Althea continues to try to prove herself worthy of captaining a liveship. Her interactions with Ophelia, the sassiest of liveships, are riveting. While Wintrow tries to find a way to help his family, Vivacia’s loyalty seems to be increasingly more divided, thanks to what she has been subjected to. Paragon is still being shunned by his family. And the sea serpents continue their quest to find the One Who Remembers, in order to being able to recall who they truly are.

It’s not only the more personal lives of the characters that are in turmoil, though. The Old Traders of Bingtown are not pleased with the way they are being treated by the current Satrap of Jamaillia nor with the new fees imposed on them. The conflict between them introduces two new characters to the story – the Satrap himself, who is a spoilt, irresponsible young man, and one of his advisors, Serilla. Continue reading

Other Favourite Stories of 2021

In order to complete the recap of 2021, I still want to share with you my other favourite stories of last year, which basically are the TV series and films I enjoyed watching the most. Despite books being the stars of this tiny blog, I also like spending my free time watching various stories unfold on a screen. I feel that 2021 was scarcer than usual when it comes to new TV shows and films, probably because of the pandemic. Thus, the following list is undeniably short.

 

Mare of Easttown

In the limited series Mare of Easttown, Kate Winslet magnificently plays detective Mare, who is investigating the murder of a young woman. Although this is a crime drama, it truly shines when the focus is on Mare’s personal and family problems.

 

Squid Game

Squid Game, a South Korean TV series on Netflix, is not for those who are squeamish about seeing blood on screen. A group of people accept to risk their lives, while playing children’s games, in order to win a huge sum of money. Being heavily indebted, they feel that they have no other solution left. It’s interesting to learn more about the characters’ backstories. Continue reading

Bookish Resolutions for 2022

I do like writing a list! That is the reason why I still continue to come up with bookish resolutions / goals / aims (whatever you want to call them) every year, although I don’t always achieve them. I have five bookish resolutions for 2022. It will be great if I manage to fulfil every single one of them until the end of the year, but if I don’t, I won’t beat myself up because of it.

Regarding numbers, I want to read 35 books. Although this is a higher number than I managed to read in 2021, it is in line with previous years. The main reason why I decided to increase the number of books I want to read is connected with my next resolution, though.

I want to take part in more reading challenges or initiatives. I have four in mind, subject to them being organised, obviously. For the last three years or more, I have been taking part in Daphne du Maurier Reading Week in May and plan to do so again in 2022. But I also hope to participate for the first time in Reading Ireland Month in March, Women in Translation Month in August, and 20 Books of Summer. For this last challenge my aim is to read some of the shortest books that have been on my wish list for a long time. So, being able to read more books than last year seems realistic at this point. Continue reading

2021 Bookish Resolutions’ Evaluation

Every year, since I started blogging, I’ve shared with you my bookish resolutions. Most of the times, I’ve been relatively successful in fulfilling them. I can tell you in advance that in 2021, however, that was not the case, something I hadn’t anticipated midway through the year.

My first goal was to read at least 25 books, fewer than the previous year, since I was hoping to read some huge books. I did read two massive books and started the one I’m still reading. But I also decided to DNF three of those that I was expecting to tackle. Spending weeks reading books that I then didn’t complete was one of the reasons why I didn’t manage to achieve my reading goal. Not only did I just read 22 books, the smallest number in the last five years, but I also read a much smaller number of pages than in 2020. I must have spent less time reading than usual without even realising.

On a more positive note, I succeeded in reading at least eight books by Lusophone authors, that is authors who write books in Portuguese. I read them without having the resolution in mind to be honest, since I had completely forgotten about this one in particular. Maybe for that reason the majority of the books that I read were not the ones I was planning to. Seven of the books I read were new to me and another was a reread. Continue reading

Quarterly Favourites – October to December 2021

2022 is already underway. Nevertheless, I still want to share with you my favourites from the last quarter of 2021. They include a book, a TV series, a film, a piece of clothing and content created by bookish people.

The book that stood out the most from the few I read during the last three months was Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, which won’t come as a surprise for those of you who have read the post about my favourite books of 2021. Via a mysterious, eccentric and haunting tale, Susanna Clarke enchantingly explored how some people deal with traumatic experiences, how memories influence our perceptions of ourselves, and how we define where home is. The main character, Piranesi, lives in an immeasurable house surrounded by the sea. Two times a week, he meets the Other to examine their efforts to discover an unknown knowledge.

I watched three TV shows, I think, in the last quarter. My favourite was Squid Game, a South Korean drama on Netflix, which I’m sure you have all heard about by now. It’s about a group of people who risk their lives playing children’s games to win a large amount of money, because they are highly in debt. As it’s extremely violent, not everyone is going to appreciate it. However, the way it explores the backstories of the characters makes it compelling. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2021

When I pick up a new book, I obviously expect to enjoy reading it. That doesn’t always happen, however. Throughout 2021, I read some books that disappointed me greatly, because I either didn’t like them at all or I just couldn’t bother finishing them. Some of the books that I decided not to finish were massive, so the possibility of slogging through them felt even more like a waste of time. The seven books mentioned below didn’t work for me sadly, but that doesn’t mean that other readers won’t find them amazing. The first two I rated with 2 stars, while the other five I decided not to read until the end.

 

A Máquina de Joseph Walser (Joseph Walser’s Machine) by Gonçalo M. Tavares

Joseph Walser worked in a factory owned by the mogul Leo Vast. He operated a machine that demanded his full attention. His personal life was not immune to complications, as his wife was having an affair with his manager. Sadly, it’s difficult to care about the characters, since their emotions and tribulations are never properly delved into. Although this short book by Gonçalo M. Tavares is promising at first, it quickly becomes a lacklustre collection of jumbled thoughts.

 

O Irmão Alemão (My German Brother) by Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque drew inspiration from his family history to write this novella. When Francisco de Hollander, the narrator and main character, realised that he had a brother in Germany, he became obsessed with discovering what had happened to him. The premise is certainly intriguing. However, the pacing is infuriating, the story feels disjointed, and the ending is not impactful. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2021

2021 hasn’t been the year during which I read the highest number of books by no stretch of the imagination, but I surely read some good ones. Picking up some massive books throughout the year didn’t help, particularly because I ended up not finishing three of them, so they didn’t count for my read books. So far, I’ve read in their entirety 22 books. Until the end of the year, I’m still hoping to finish the humongous The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb and to read another two much shorter books. None of these are likely to be good candidates for my favourite books of the year, though.

Throughout 2021, I read books from various genres and of several formats. Novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections were all part of my reading choices. They can be categorised as historical fiction, fantasy, dystopian and literary fiction. The majority of the books that I read were new to me, but I also reread two books. Livro by José Luís Peixoto I certainly enjoyed, although not as much as I remember doing the first time, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Only taking into consideration the books that I read for the first time in 2021, however, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Reorganising Bookshelves: A Tale of Enjoyment

All booklovers have their own specific ways of organising their bookshelves. Mine has changed recently. Or more precisely I’ve managed to improve on the way my books were organised by getting rid of books that I was sure I was never going to read again and, thus, I couldn’t find a truly good reason to keep.

In recent years, I went from keeping on my shelves all the books that I read to only keeping those that I remembered enjoying, that I rated with 4 or 5 stars, or that were special 3-star reads. Those 3-star reads were books that had beautiful covers, were part of a collection, such as the Penguin English Library, featured a memorable character, had a curious structure, were written by authors whose work in general I love, or were almost 4-star reads. Almost all of those books are also now gone from my shelves.

Having more space available on my small bookshelves meant that I could organise my books in a more careful way. Before, I only separated read from unread books and kept all the books I read by the same author together. I’ve been wanting to change that for a while, but I just couldn’t find the necessary space. Now, I’m also finally organising my read books by categories. Continue reading

Margaret Atwood: The Gift of Writing Books Highlighting Women

To pick up a book by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood and to discover a female protagonist doesn’t come as a surprise. The many struggles faced by women are a common theme in her books, irrespective of them being categorised as literary, historical fiction, dystopian or myth retellings. The female characters born solely of her imagination or inspired by real-life events are more often than not memorable, which is not only the result of a believable characterisation, but also of an alluring writing style.

Born on 18 November 1939 in Ottawa, Margaret Atwood is the author of eighteen novels, fifteen books of poetry and ten short story collections, having also written non-fiction and children’s books. So far, I’ve read seven of her books. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Moreover, she has also taught English Literature at various Canadian and American universities.

It’s not wrong to say that she is one of the most celebrated Canadian writers. The extensive number of prizes that Atwood has won and been nominated for is not a coincidence. She has been the recipient of the Booker Prize twice. In 2019, she shared the prize with Bernardine Evaristo, causing an uproar. Awarding the Booker to The Testaments may have been unfair. The accolade that The Blind Assassin got in 2000 I consider much more suitable, however. Continue reading