Exploration of Motherhood in Books

Depicting mothers has always been a challenge that authors were willing to accept throughout history, particularly in adult fiction. They can be portrayed as the “ideal” mums, the ones that get everything right and do no wrong, but more often than not the most interesting mothers are those who are struggling in some way, that have conflicting feelings towards motherhood, that are afraid of failing, or that try incredibly hard to protect their offspring, occasionally to no avail.

In the latest years, I read some books that made me ponder on the importance that motherhood plays in stories. The mothers in Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, The Muse and The Confession by Jessie Burton are all dissimilar. Nevertheless, they have a huge relevance in the plot of the novels they are a part of, even when they are not the main characters.

If you have not read the novels I mentioned previously, I warn you that I’ll allude to some occurrences that may be considered spoilers. Continue reading

How the Seasonal Quartet by Ali Smith Ultimately Disappointed Me

My first foray into Ali Smith’s work was with Autumn, the first published novel in the Scottish author’s Seasonal Quartet. After finishing reading it, I was not eager to pick up any other of her books, but many positive reviews of Winter convinced me to continue to read this collection of novels. It ended up being the correct decision, seeing that I subsequently enjoyed both Winter and Spring. Sadly, I cannot say the same about Summer, which I’ve recently DNFed.

One of the aims of the Seasonal Quartet is to record the times we live in. For that reason, there’s an obvious immediacy to all of the books, current affairs playing an essential role in them. As much as I enjoy books that deal with politics and social issues, they only work for me when at least the characters are attention-grabbing. And that, unfortunately, was not being the case of Summer.

 

Four novels for four seasons

I was left with mixed feelings after finishing reading Autumn. It is essentially a collection of fragments focusing on how 101-year-old Daniel influenced the life of the much younger Elisabeth, plus various references to current events, including the Brexit referendum, the situation of refugees, the lack of job security, and the difficulty in finding an affordable house. There’s no real plot being developed. The book mainly only comprises the characters’ thoughts and reminiscences about their lives. Reading it both bored me to death and left me in awe of how well Ali Smith can craft sentences. Continue reading

Do I Want to Read My Goodreads Recommendations?

After watching Sophie’s video “If Goodreads was a dating App” on her YouTube channel, Portal in the Pages, I decided to take a look at my Goodreads recommendations. Did any of the books there appeal to me? Did I discover new books to add to my wish list? From the 40 books (I’m not going to list them all) that Goodreads thinks that, for some reason, I would like, I’m certain that I want to read merely four. I’m ambivalent about other two. These books were either already on my wish list, or I had at some point considered adding them to it. I sadly didn’t discover any new books that I may want to read in the future. Exploring my Goodreads recommendations ended up not being particularly useful.

Nevertheless, I still want to share with you the four books that I plan to read from that list, plus the two that I’m uncertain whether I want to read or not!

 

O Retorno (The Return) by Dulce Maria Cardoso

I’ve recently mentioned this book on a post about the contemporary Portuguese authors I want to read books by. It is set in 1975 after the independence of Angola. The main character, Rui, is a young boy who has recently arrived in Portugal. His family had to flee Angola and he is having a hard time settling in. Continue reading

2021 Mid-year Resolutions’ Evaluation

Can you believe that we are almost mid-way through the year? Time seems to be flying by. At the beginning of the year, I set myself some goals / resolutions regarding my reading and the content that I create for the blog. Am I bound to fulfil them? I think that I’ve been making good progress in order to be successful at the end of the year, at least concerning the majority of the resolutions.

In 2021, I set the goal of reading at least 25 books. This is a lower number than in previous years, because I’m planning to read a couple of huge books (longer than 800 pages). I’ve read twelve books so far and am mid-way through another one! Goodreads tells me that I’m one book ahead of schedule, so achieving this goal seems more than plausible. Of the massive books that I was hoping to read this year, I’ve already DNFed two of them for different reasons and at different points. I gave up on War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy after reading just a couple of chapters, while I read almost half of The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber before abandoning it.

Other of my resolutions for this year is to read at least eight books by Lusophone authors. I’ve read four so far, which means that I still have plenty of time to achieve my goal. I just may not read precisely the ones that I was thinking about when I wrote the post on my resolutions some months ago. Continue reading

Most Owned and Read Authors – Second Update

There’s something special about reading a book by an author whose work we are becoming increasingly familiar with. It doesn’t matter how many books we have read by some authors, we still want to continue to explore their work, compare and contrast, discover similarities or disparities between books. For that reason, there are some authors that are more prevalent than others on our shelves.

I wrote my first ‘Most Owned and Read Authors’ post in 2017. Back then, I still had on my shelves many of the books that I had read as a child and a teenager. I since then gave almost all of them away, as I didn’t plan to read them ever again and had lost that somewhat inexplicable sentimental connection with them. I also started to only keep on my shelves the books that I either loved or enjoyed, plus some that I only found passable but that have some special characteristic to them. Still, as there weren’t many changes on the authors featured on the first update of my most owned and read authors a year later, I decided to stop writing this kind of posts annually.

I have now realised that two authors (Daphne du Maurier and José Saramago) who didn’t even make it onto the list before have since then become significantly prominent. The time has come for a second update! It’s important to recall that these are not necessarily the authors that I have read more books by. But they are in a way the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most books by, either because they have written book series I cherished or because I’m an admirer of their work in general. Continue reading

Contemporary Portuguese Authors I Want to Read

With a couple of exceptions, Portuguese authors are not that well known in the English-speaking world. That is one of the reasons why I review almost all of the books I read by them even when translations into English are not yet available. Though I try to read a mix of books written in English and in Portuguese, I feel that I haven’t been reading many contemporary Portuguese authors recently. And by contemporary, for the purpose of this post, I mean authors who are currently alive.

There are six contemporary Portuguese authors that I haven’t read any books by yet, but whose work I’m curious about. Many of their books appeal to me. Nevertheless, there is one book by each of them that I’m more eager to read than the others (I may always change my mind, though).

 

João Tordo

Born in 1975, João Tordo won the José Saramago Prize in 2009. Despite his relatively young age, he has close to twenty books published. His novels have been catching my attention for some time now, but I haven’t read one yet for reasons unknown. I plan to change that soon. I’ll probably start with Felicidade, whose main character is a 17-year-old teenage boy who feels trapped between two worlds. He falls in love with Felicidade, one of three identical twins, who are known as the Kopejka sisters, in 1973, a time when modernity and tradition are clashing. Continue reading

Should We Judge Books by Their Marketing Campaigns?

Marketing teams play a crucial role when the time comes to promote a book. It would be very difficult for authors, particularly lesser known ones, to advertise their books without their help. They outline a plan to get books on the radar of potential readers using various platforms. But can their efforts occasionally be counterproductive? What if the marketing campaign for a book creates unfair expectations?

Publishers tend to emphasise the characteristics of a book that they believe will lead to sell the greatest number of copies possible. In order to entice readers, marketeers may try to highlight elements of a book that are not necessarily the main focus of the story or slightly tweak the premise of the book to fit in with current trends. This is occasionally obvious from press releases, the digital marketing strategy, and the blurbs of the books.

When The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker was initially released, the marketing campaign seemed to focus on how it was a feminist Ancient Greek myth retelling. It was supposed to give a voice to the women involved in the Trojan War. At the time, many readers were disappointed to discover that the book not only focuses on Briseis point of view, but it also presents the perspectives of Achilles and Patroclus. Pat Barker’s purpose was, in my opinion, to establish a contrast between how the men and the enslaved women were allowed to grieve. Unsurprisingly, women had to do so inconspicuously, hence the title of the novel. Continue reading

My Every Main Blog Post about Daphne du Maurier

I fell in love with Daphne du Maurier at first read! When I read Rebecca in 2017, it immediately became one of my favourite books of all time. I then decided to read at least one book by her every year. I’ve also taken part in the Daphne du Maurier reading week (#DDMreadingweek), which is hosted by Ali, since 2019 and this year is no exception. It has started on Monday and ends next Sunday (it runs from 10 to 16 May). I’m currently reading Frenchman’s Creek, which I hope to finish soon (I plan to publish a review on Friday), and would also love to have time to read Don’t Look Now: Short Stories.

But I already have many other posts on my blog only about Daphne du Maurier and her work if you’re interested. So far, I’ve written seven reviews, an author spotlight and a post listing my favourite characters from her novels.

 

Reviews

The Scapegoat

The Birds and Other Stories

The House on the Strand

Jamaica Inn

The King’s General

My Cousin Rachel

Rebecca Continue reading

New Instagram Account

News alert: I have created a new Instagram account to use only for bookish purposes. Until recently I had been using my personal one to occasionally share some pictures of books and to follow other creators. I faced a constant conundrum, though. On the one hand I didn’t want to inundate my feed with only pictures of books, because I used that account to interact with my real-life friends, but on the other hand I also didn’t want to share more personal photos there either, since I had set its visibility to public. The result was that I almost didn’t use Instagram at all anymore, despite loving photography.

To solve that problem, I’ve now made my personal account private (plus removed all followers I didn’t know personally) and created a new account to serve only as a companion for the blog, which will continue to be the main platform I use. A blog suits my need to share written opinions on books more in depth, as I personally don’t like reading long captions on Instagram.

What can you expect to see on my new Instagram account? My “plan” is to always share a picture of the book I’ve just reviewed on the blog, accompanied by a summary of my opinions (a couple of sentences) on the caption. Whenever I publish a post on the blog other than a review, I will also share a picture on Instagram that will serve as a recap of it in some way. Plus, at the end of each month, I want to post a picture featuring all of the books I’ve read with a caption focusing mostly on my favourite. Continue reading

Book Blog Post Ideas

It doesn’t matter when you decided to start sharing your passion about reading books with other people through a blog, it may have been months or years ago, the time will surely come when you will find it difficult to come up with new ideas for posts. The struggle is real and you’re not alone!

Recently, I’ve been trying hard to find new topics on books to write about. After staring at my shelves for hours (mandatory online hyperbole!) seeking inspiration, I decided to scroll through my blog to recall what I’ve written about so far. I can’t say that I was successful in having brilliant new ideas, but I came up with a list of possible types of content for those who are also on the lookout for things to write about.

 

Book reviews

If you decided to start a blog about books, it’s a given that you like sharing your opinions about them. Book reviews are the most obvious way to do so in a comprehensive manner. We use them to convey our feelings about the plot, characters, writing style, the pacing, the quality of the dialogue. Some decide to give books a star rating, while others do not. It’s also up to you whether you review all of the books that you read or just only the ones that you enjoyed. I personally write (and read) what can be considered negative reviews, but many bloggers do not. Continue reading