2022 Mid-year Resolutions’ Evaluation

Back in January, I listed the five bookish resolutions that I have for this year. The second half of June is the perfect time to evaluate whether I’m on track to fulfil those goals or not. Spoiler alert: I’ve already failed one of them!

Let’s start with one resolution regarding which there’s still hope, though. I want to read 35 books until the end of the year. So far, I’ve only read 10 books, which would be worrying if I didn’t plan to read far more books in the second half of the year, thanks to the reading challenge 20 Books of Summer.

Taking part in more reading challenges or initiatives is another of my goals. Not only am I participating in 20 Books of Summer at the moment (I’ve only finished one book so far, mainly because almost two years and a half later COVID got me and I felt poorly), but I also took part in Reading Ireland Month, during which I read One by One in the Darknessby Deirdre Madden and DNFed Normal People by Sally Rooney, and Daphne du Maurier Reading Week, having started reading at the time The Flight of the Falcon, a novel I ended up only finishing some days later.
The time hasn’t yet come for me to try to fulfil my third resolution, though. Continue reading

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

The mid of the year is just around the corner, so this is the perfect time to start reflecting on our reading year. I’ve recently watched Lauren from the YouTube channel Lauren and the Books doing the Mid-year Freak Out Tag and decided to answer the questions as well, although, if everything goes according to plan, I’ll read more books in the second half of the year than in the first and, therefore, the best may well be still to come.

 

  1. Best book you have read so far this year

One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden is probably the best book I’ve read this year so far. Through a story of a grieving family, it paints a picture of the Northern Irish society during the Troubles. As the book goes back and forth in time, the fascinating characters come to life.

 

  1. Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

I’ve only read one sequel so far – The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. It is the second book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, which is set in a world where the figureheads of ships become alive, because they are made of wood with magical properties. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2022 – Reading Plans

Summer is coming and with it a reading challenge that I’ve never taken part in, but that I have been tempted to try for a while – the 20 Books of Summer, hosted by Cathy of the blog 746 Books. The goal is to read 20 books (or fewer) from our TBR during three months. This year’s edition runs from 1 June to 1 September, and I’m joining in! Besides endeavouring to read 20 books, it’s also possible to choose to read “only” 10 or 15 books. So why have I, as a slow reader who only finishes around two or three books per month, decided to read 20 books? There’s no reasonable explanation!

I do have a plan to try to be successful in this challenge, though. I’m not reading any books a few days before the beginning of 20 Books of Summer. The reasoning behind this is that I hope I’ll miss reading so much that I’ll feel like reading more pages a day than usual. Moreover, when making the list of books I plan to read during this period, I only selected short ones. I don’t think any of them is longer than 250 pages.

Although I don’t have a huge pile of unread books to pick from, since I’ve only been buying books as I read them, I do have more than 200 books on my wish list. From the ones that have been on that list for more than a year, I selected various short novels (some may even be classed as novellas), a graphic novel, plus short story and poetry collections. Four of them are translations of books written by women, because I also want to participate for the first time in Women in Translation month during August. Continue reading

Book Genres – Biggest Delights and Pet Peeves

The magical power of the written word can be found in a variety of book genres. Some of my favourites are literary fiction, fantasy, dystopian and historical fiction, but I also read other types of books. That doesn’t mean I like all the books within a specific genre, though. In fact, while some of their most common characteristics give me great joy, others are a source of great irritation. There are four book genres regarding which I can pinpoint my biggest delights and pet peeves.

 

Literary Fiction

Books that can be classified as literary fiction don’t usually shine because of their compelling and gripping plots. The characteristics that I find the most appealing about this genre are the importance placed on character development and the impactful prose. The writing style doesn’t have to be full of linguistic flourishes, but it has to help readers form an emotional attachment to the story, message and characters. Having said that, I love how some authors awe me with their lyrical prose as if stringing words together was a magic trick.

One characteristic that I don’t tend to like about some books in the literary fiction genre is their fragmentary nature. Books that are almost only a compilation of vignettes or snippets, when short scenes and descriptions are not well connected, usually annoy me. As almost everything in life, there are exceptions, though. I enjoyed Ema by Maria Teresa Horta and Lanny by Max Porter, for example, despite their more fragmentary prose and structure. Continue reading

Books to Read in a Weekend

The weekend is the perfect time to sit down, relax and spend a great couple of hours reading a book. If that book is shorter than 200 pages, it’s even possible to read it in full during only one weekend. Even if you are a content slow reader like me, who is not bothered anymore about not being able to read for many hours in a row, sometimes it just feels fulfilling to finish a book in two days. I haven’t managed to read many books in a single weekend, to be honest, but you could certainly read the following books in only two days (or even one).

 

Os Armários Vazios (Empty Wardrobes) by Maria Judite de Carvalho

When Dora Rosário’s husband died, she mourned him for 10 years. She couldn’t have anticipated how her outlook on life was about to change. Empty Wardrobes is a story about how three women let their lives be influenced by men. As it has an unreliable narrator, readers are forgiven for constantly questioning whether the characters actually acted in the way we are being told that they did.

 

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

A story about the decisions made by the women in the life of Chris Baldry, The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West features believable characters and various visual descriptions of the natural settings. After a long time without having news from Baldry, his wife and his cousin received the visit of Margaret Allington. She told them that he was in hospital with no memory of the last 15 years. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from ‘Our Wives under the Sea’ to ‘Hotel Iris’

It’s the beginning of the month, which means that it’s time for another chain of books. Six Degrees of Separation is a bookish meme created by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. Every month Kate chooses one book to start the chain and we just have to select other six, each connected in some way with the previous one.

For April the first book is Our Wives under the Sea by Julia Armfield, which I haven’t read yet, though I enjoyed her collection of short stories Salt Slow. In her debut novel, Miri is happy that her wife, Leah, has returned home from a deep-sea mission. Leah is struggling, however, as that mission has not ended well.

The title of Julia Armfield’s novel reminds me of the short story collection Diving Belles by Lucy Wood. The main character in the first tale, which is memorably atmospheric, goes under the sea on a diving belle to see her husband. The sea is, in fact, a recurring element in many of the stories featured in this collection. Continue reading

Books I’ve Added to my Wish List during #readingirelandmonth22

My first time taking part in Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy, is not being as productive as I anticipated. I’ve only recently started reading my first book for it (One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden, which I’m enjoying) and have not followed the posts by other bloggers as closely as I hoped. Nevertheless, I’ve still added various books by Irish authors to my wish list since the beginning of March.

Almost all the books below were written by authors whom I’ve never heard of before to my great shame. They are novels, novellas and a collection of short stories mostly focused on families or personal experiences, which also paint a picture of life in Ireland at various points in time.

 

Foster by Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan is an Irish author whose name I was already familiar with. Her book Small Things Like These has been on my wish list since late last year. Thanks to Reading Ireland Month, it now has the company of Foster, a novella about a young girl who is sent to live with a foster family on a farm in rural Ireland. Her life begins to improve while in their care, but a revelation changes everything once again. The emotional depth of the book is supposed to be outstanding. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from ‘The End of the Affair’ to ‘Catch the Rabbit’

I’ve been meaning to take part in the bookish meme Six Degrees of Separation, created by Kate from Books Are My Favourite and Best, for a long time. This month I’m finally joining in, despite being (fashionably) late! What does it consist in? Every month Kate chooses a book and we just need to add other six, each having a link to the previous book in our chain.

This March, the initial book is The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, which I don’t know much about, as I haven’t read it. Set in London during the Second World War, it seems to be about an affair gone awry. After Sarah ends her relationship with Maurice Bendrix, he hires a private detective to follow her.

Another book set during the Second World War and that I also haven’t read yet is Transcription by Kate Atkinson. In 1940, the 18-year-old Juliet Armstrong starts working at an obscure department of the MI5, whose purpose is to monitor fascist supporters. Continue reading

Authors I Wish I Had Added to My List of 100 Women Writers to Read in My Lifetime

Back in 2016, the year I started blogging, I curated a list of 100 women writers that I wanted to read during my lifetime inspired by Jean from Jean Bookishthoughts. At the time, I was reading far more books by men than by women and was eager to change that. I’m pleased to inform that I’m now reading significantly more books by women! And I’m not even forcing myself to tick names off that list (I still haven’t read the vast majority of them). I’ve been reading and cherishing books by authors that aren’t on the list, thanks mostly to other bookish content creators introducing me to great female writers.

When I decided to pursue that long-term reading project, Jean’s own list was my starting point. I just included some other authors that I had already read and a couple of Portuguese writers. While I didn’t enjoy the books that I read by every single one of the authors on the list, I’ve read books by other talented women that I now wish were part of it. International Women’s Day seemed like the perfect time to mention them!

 

Maria Judite de Carvalho

When I curated my list of 100 women writers to read in my lifetime, I hadn’t heard of the Portuguese author Maria Judite de Carvalho, who was born in 1921 and died in 1998. Her work only came on my radar around three years ago. I’ve recently read Os Armários Vazios, Empty Wardrobes in the English translation. It’s a novella with an unreliable narrator that tells the story of how three women let their lives be influenced by men. Another book I’m interested in by her is Tanta Gente, Mariana. Continue reading

Books by Irish Authors – What I’ve Read So Far

Ireland is an island booming with talent. When it comes to books, I haven’t been admiring it properly, though, since I’ve only read six books by Irish authors, two of them by the same writer. Having such a short sample to pick from, it wouldn’t be fair to choose favourites for my first post during Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy throughout March. Instead, I’m sharing a summary of my experience reading books by Irish authors.

 

The Glorious Heresies and The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney

The first book I read by Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies, follows five characters: Ryan, Maureen, Jimmy, Tony and Georgie. Their paths cross when Maureen accidentally kills a man. Throughout the book, various topics, including religiosity, prostitution, dysfunctional families and drug dealing, are engagingly explored. The characters also feel genuine.

The Blood Miracles, on the other hand, is not as impressive. Despite Ryan being the sole protagonist, his feelings are not as poignant and thoughtful as in the previous novel. Too much focus is placed on drug trafficking and nightclubs. Continue reading