Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words. Continue reading

Advertisement

Books to Gift Reluctant Readers This Christmas

Readers love sharing their passion for books with other people. But what if your loved ones, be they friends or family members, are not massive readers? Can you still gift them books for Christmas? If they truly hate reading, the answer is probably no. However, if they are just not overly enthusiastic about the act of sitting down and read for a while, there is probably still a chance that they may not loathe receiving a book as a gift. Possibly, that book may even make them pick up other books in the future.

This post is not a list of specific books that I recommend to reluctant readers. Although I mention a couple of titles (the majority of which I haven’t read myself) as examples, I’ve just mainly decided to share with you some ideas about the types of books that unenthusiastic readers may be more willing to pick up, depending on their interests.

 

Companion books for TV series and films

Those who are huge fans of certain TV series or films may like knowing more about their production. Luckily for them, there are various books that focus on the behind the scenes of various shows and blockbusters. If they like Game of Thrones, for example, there are various books about the making of the show – Game of Thrones: The Costumes by Michele Clapton with Gina McIntyre, The Art of Game of Thrones – The Official Book of Design from Season 1 to Season 8 by Deborah Riley with Jody Revenson, or Game of Thrones: A Guide to Westeros and Beyond by Miles McNutt. I don’t own any of these books, but they look stunning! There are also various such books about the Harry Potter films, for instance. Continue reading

Books I Almost Loved

Very rarely do I rate books with five stars. For that to happen, a book has to be perfect in every regard in my opinion. I can’t even have a minor complaint. As I decided early on not to use half stars on my ratings, I always award four stars to books that weren’t flawless but that I almost loved. Only by reading the review can my high esteem for such books be fully perceived. The following eight books fall under that category.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

This retelling of an Ancient Greek myth resembles a fictional memoir. Circe, the daughter of Helios (the god of sun) and Perse (a nymph), was sentenced to exile as a punishment for using witchcraft against her own kind. Throughout the book, Madeline Miller delves into the meaning of love and the fear of losing a dear one. The prose is gripping and the characters feel truly real, thanks to a tangible portrayal of emotions, particularly those of Circe. However, the book loses a bit of its enchantment when Circe tells stories about Odysseus.

 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

The first book in The Farseer Trilogy is not only a story of court intrigue and lust for power, but also a true interpretation of human emotions. When he was 6 years old, Fitz was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. Some years later, he started being trained as an assassin in secret. The detailed and absorbing writing style is one of the highlights of this fantasy book. Unfortunately, the last chapter is not as thorough and some events are just briefly mentioned. Continue reading

Books Enhanced by Their Structures

The way in which authors decide to structure their books may have a huge impact on the final result. I’m unsure if structure is the correct term. But I mean the choices that writers make in terms of the order and the manner in which the narrative is presented to the readers, or the form used to tell a specific story.

There are three books, which I read in the latest years, whose structures were one of the highlights of my reading experience. I’m certain I wouldn’t have liked them as much as I did if the story had been told in a different way.

 

Jerusalém by Gonçalo M. Tavares

In this novel, the Portuguese writer Gonçalo M. Tavares delves into insanity and horror. The story is told from the perspectives of various characters – Ernst, Mylia, Theodor, Hanna and Hinnerk – and doesn’t follow a strict chronological order. The actions of the characters are not revealed in sequence but when they are useful for the narration. Each chapter reveals more information about either the past or the present, which helps the reader understand how the characters are connected with one another. This enhanced the story, because it kept me curious and guessing. Continue reading

Beautiful Books to Gift this Christmas

If you, like me, unwisely leave Christmas shopping for the last minute (or more precisely for the last week), you may still need some ideas about what to buy for the book lovers in your life. Last year, the post I wrote to share gift ideas included both books and related items. This time I’m limiting my recommendations to books which have either beautiful covers or are gorgeously illustrated. Some I own myself, others I don’t but wish I did.

 

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson

I didn’t include this collection of short stories and recipes on my gift recommendations last year, because I was convinced that it was supposed to be read on the countdown to Christmas. However, I’ve recently heard that the 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas day and end on 5 January, making it a perfect gift after all. I will definitely read it this season!

 

Virago Modern Classics Editions of Daphne du Maurier’s books

After loving Rebecca, I’ve been adding books by Daphne du Maurier to my wish list almost every other month. And I would love to have them all on the Virago Modern Classics Editions, which have stripy spines and du Maurier’s name on the top. One or more of them would make a perfect Christmas gift. Quality content and gorgeous covers – what more could a reader want? Continue reading

Books Worth the Hype

Occasionally there is so much hype surrounding certain books that, instead of being confident that I will enjoy them, I become afraid of reading them. Books that attract a lot of attention, either after being heavily promoted by publishers or loved by many people in the bookish community, can, thus, remain on my shelves or wish list for a long time before I finally decide to pick them up. Some books I end up not understanding why they were so hyped, while others I fully recognise their merits.

Below are some of the books that, in my opinion, are worth all the previous hype around them. They were all written by contemporary authors, seeing that these are the ones that tend to be more publicised and that classics have already passed the test of time. I didn’t love all of them, but I definitely enjoyed them enough to recommend you reading them in case they sound like something you would like.

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I became aware of Jessie Burton’s debut novel when it was released, seeing that it kept appearing on various book hauls on BookTube. I didn’t pay much attention to what it was about to be honest. But I knew that I wanted it on my shelves, because I had fallen in love with the gorgeous cover. This is obviously not the best reason to buy a book. Nonetheless, it ended up being a good acquisition, since I adored it when I finally read it. Continue reading

Books to Read During Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and you may be in need of something to read. This usually is the time of the year to pick up some horror books. But, as I haven’t read that many books from that genre, I decided to list some of those that I consider appropriate for this time of the year instead of choosing favourites. The books mentioned below all feature either dark, twisted or spooky elements, which are intended to leave the reader feeling uneasy.

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Even if you have never read Frankenstein, you may be familiar with the story it tells. Victor Frankenstein manages to animate lifeless matter, but the creature born of that experiment is nothing like what he expected. This is a book about how a creator deals with the destructive actions of his creation.

 

The Dumb House by John Burnside  

A dark story is conveyed using beautifully crafted prose in The Dumb House. The main character, Luke, is obsessed with the issue of life and death, the existence of a soul, and questions if language is either learnt or innate. This leads him to a twisted experiment performed on his own children. Continue reading