Books I Struggled to Rate

Sometimes, as soon as I finish a book, I instantaneously know how many stars I’m going to award it. Other times, to choose one from only five numbers becomes a hugely challenging task. My main difficulty, so far, has been deciding whether some books were 3 or 4-star reads. There was also an instance when I was unsure whether a book deserved a 2 or a 3-star rating.  However, I’ve never had indecisions involving possible 5-star reads – those are just faultless books in my eyes, easy!

Since I’ve started this blog, the following books were the ones that I remember struggling the most to rate.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

In All the Light We Cannot See, readers are introduced to the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, whose lives are deeply affected by the events of the Second World War. The overall story is quite inspiring, and I really appreciated the ending. However, I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, mainly because of the structure of the book, which felt too fragmented. I was unsure whether to rate it with 3 or 4 stars. I ended up going for a 4-star rating and now feel like it was the right choice. Continue reading

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2018 Mid-Year Resolutions’ Evaluation

We are now midway through 2018, hence it’s the perfect time to examine whether I’m fulfilling my bookish resolutions or not. In all honesty, I could only recollect two of the goals I had set myself, so I had to reread the blog post where I revealed them. One of the reasons why I couldn’t remember all of my resolutions was that I’ve been following the majority of them almost instinctively.

My prime resolution for 2018 was to read one book by an author from each of the still 28 EU member states. I called this reading project ‘EU still 28’. You can know more about it at its dedicated page. So far, I’ve read 12 out of the 28 books on my previously established list. I’m not halfway through yet, but since I’ve read a few books aside from this project, I’m confident that I can still complete it before the year comes to an end.

At the beginning of the year, I hoped to read 35 books in 2018. Thus far, I’ve read 18 and am almost finishing another. So, I’m pretty sure I’ll manage to comply with my reading challenge and may even surpass it. Continue reading

My 2-Year Experience as a Book Blogger

Last Sunday was my second-year blog anniversary! So, I decided to look back on my book blogging experience and share some thoughts about it. To be honest, when I first started blogging, I wasn’t 100% sure about what I was doing and had no real expectations. I had written content for websites before (just not about books) and had tried to start a travel blog some years previously (which was quite silly, seeing that unfortunately I don’t really travel that much), thus I knew my way around content management systems. But what was I going to write about?

At the time, I was watching loads of BookTube videos and had just started reading some book reviews. That made me want to discuss the books I was reading with other people. But, as my friends are not massive readers, I couldn’t really do that in real life on a regular basis. It was then that I decided to start this blog! Some months before I had read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and had some thoughts to share. So, my earliest post was a review of that book, when probably it would have been wiser to write an introductory post first.

Before writing that review, I came up with a kind of structure for the blog. I wrote an ‘about’ page and established a set of categories that I thought encompassed the types of posts I was planning to write – reviews, favourites and author spotlights. Soon I realised that I needed a new category which embodied features on a variety of subjects that didn’t fit in with the other ones. It was then born the ‘other bookish content’ category. After that, I also started doing book hauls and, more recently, have introduced a new category focusing on bookish places. Continue reading

Beautiful Book Collections

Who doesn’t like to have their shelves full of books with matching spines and covers? There is something extremely appealing about a collection of books whose covers share the same specific elements, style, or design. Books within a collection, or series, can either have all been written by the same author or by different authors who share certain characteristics, such as having lived within the same time period or having penned similar books in terms of genres and themes.

Whenever publishers announce a new collection of books with highly appealing covers, I always do some research to know more about the plots and the authors’ writing styles. I may feel like buying plenty of books from a given collection, but I usually only tend to really do so if I’m also interested in the story. Throughout the years, there have been a few collections that I bought books from.

At the moment, the most predominant one on my shelves is the Penguin English Library collection of classics. I do love the stripy spines and the simply but beautifully illustrated book covers. I find the little drawings placed throughout the covers quite charming. I’ve written a post solely on this series some time ago. You can read it here, in case you want to know more about it. Continue reading

My Summer Reading Plans

Summer is just around the corner and, although I’m not much of a seasonal reader, there are some types of books that I tend to read during the hottest season. For no particular reason other than that I associate them with past holidays, I’m more inclined to read fantasy, adventure and funny books during summer. Below are some of the books that I plan to pick up throughout the following months. The weather has been extremely erratic in Portugal (it has been awfully cloudy and much cooler than usual), but I can already imagine myself reading these while the sun shines on a blue sky!

 

The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk

Seeing that this is a book about the arrival of outsiders into a forest full of ancient traditions, myths and legends, I believe that it must have at least some fantasy or magical realism undertones. I’m not really sure what to expect from it, though, since I had never heard of this book before searching for Estonian authors online.

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I don’t know much about the plot of this book by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, but I’ve heard that it features quite a few funny moments. According to the blurb, it follows Nombeko Mayeki, who is on the run from a secret service. Continue reading

Authors I Want to Give A Second Chance to

To delve into the work of an author for the first time is both a thrilling and unnerving experience. While to read a book by a writer we are familiar with feels like returning home, to immerse ourselves in the work of an author new to us is a foray into uncharted territory. Although sometimes we end up discovering a new favourite, it is also possible to get highly disappointed. Below are some of the authors whom the only book that I read by didn’t impress me much (I rated it with either 3 or 2 stars), but to whom I want to give a second chance.

 

Ali Smith

I made my first foray into Ali Smith’s work with Autumn, the first book in a planned seasonal quartet. The plot isn’t easy to explain, because it wanders amidst the flow of the characters’ thoughts and reminiscences. It delves into the bond forged between Daniel Gluck and Elisabeth Demand, as well as into some current events, including Brexit. I was left with quite mixed feelings, being both in awe of the way Ali Smith managed to craft some sentences and bored by the lack of plot development.

At first, I thought that I wouldn’t want to read Winter, the second book in this collection of standalones, but so many people have been praising it that I’ve changed my mind. Continue reading

Bookish Snobbery and Literary Fiction

I consider myself to be quite an eclectic reader when it comes to book genres. What I look for in a book is competent writing, engaging prose, remarkable characters, and an interesting plot. These elements can be found in a variety of genres. However, some authors and readers seem to put literary fiction on a pedestal and disregard genre fiction. That for me reveals a high level of snobbery. I’m not trying to say that readers should like every single book genre there is, that is virtually impossible. But there is a huge difference between not enjoy reading a specific genre and considering that all books from that genre are worthless.

When I say that I don’t like a certain genre, it is a matter of personal taste and not of quality. For example, nowadays, I almost never read Young Adult novels, because I tend not to enjoy reading books whose main characters are teenagers, particularly when they are younger than 17 years old (Harry Potter being one of the few exceptions). Nevertheless, I recognise that they can be extremely enjoyable for a lot of people and that they can even convey critical messages.

Personally, I appreciate both literary fiction and a variety of genre fiction (fantasy, dystopian, mystery…), because, as Jessie Burton put in on Twitter, “my favourite genre is a Book with Incredible Prose That Stops You with Astonishment, Characters You Think Might Walk Through The Door and Story that Makes You Miss Your Train”. Such books can be branded as both literary fiction and genre fiction. Continue reading

Books I Keep on My Shelves

Almost every book lover has to face a serious problem: to make room for all the books that we own! At the moment, I haven’t got enough space for more than two small bookcases, so I really can’t keep all the books that I read and buy. This wasn’t always the case, though. Not so long ago, I was able to keep all the books that I read, even the ones that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Not wanting to keep all the books that I read is not only a question of space, though. I really don’t feel that need anymore, since I now have various ways to keep track of both the books that I’ve already read and my thoughts on them (this blog, my Goodreads account, etc.).

Until recently, I’ve followed one straightforward rule when it came to decide which books to keep – if I rated them as either a 3, 4 or 5-stars read, they deserved a place on my bookshelves. But as I’ve been reading more books than ever before, I no longer have the space to keep all the books to which I awarded a positive rating. For a long time, I also kept various books that I had read as a teenager. But last year I donated the majority of them to my local library. The reason behind that decision was that I would never read them again.

To be honest, I haven’t reread a book in a really long time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t reread books in the future. Nevertheless, there are books that I’m pretty sure I will never reread, since I didn’t like them enough to want to delve into them again. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that those books are not only the ones that I read when I was much younger or that I gave 1 or 2 stars to, but also some of those which were 3-star reads. Continue reading

My First Loves from Various Book Genres

‘What is your favourite book genre?’. Here is a question I haven’t got an answer for. Lately, I have been mainly reading books that can be categorised as literary fiction, a term I use despite having various reservations about it (an interesting topic for discussion which I’m not focusing on today). However, I also really like fantasy, dystopian novels and horror, for example. My reading taste is fairly varied in this regard.

When it comes to some genres, I clearly remember which book made me want to read more of the same sort. The books mentioned below are my first loves from a specific genre, although some of them denote influences from various other ones. They may not be my favourite books from that genre anymore, but I liked them enough when I first read them to continue picking up books with some of the same characteristics.

 

Fantasy

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

To have the third book of the Harry Potter series as my first love in the fantasy category may seem a bit strange. But this was the first book that I read in the series. I was around 13 years old, and it was recommended and lent to me by a friend, who apparently didn’t consider necessary to start the series from the beginning. And to be honest I don’t remember struggling to understand the plot at all. After falling in love with the characters and the world portrayed, I then bought Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and from there read all the others books in order. Continue reading

Unexpected Surprising Books

Occasionally, when we start reading a book, we’re already expecting to be surprised by some event, outcome or revelation. We may not know what that surprise will be, but we know it’s coming, possibly because there may be some mystery awaiting to be solved. The books mentioned below have the particularity of featuring surprises that I was not expecting at all for various reasons. I could have chosen a few more, but these were the first that sprang to mind.

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The first reason why I was surprised by Jessie Burton’s debut novel was that I knew close to nothing about the plot before buying it. I just had fell in love with the cover. However, after reading the first chapters, the main mystery seemed to be the identity of the miniaturist who sends Nella small replicas of people and objects from her daily life that she didn’t order. So, it was with great astonishment that I realised that many other and more interesting surprises had been awaiting me.

 

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Through a non-linear narrative, A God in Ruins introduces the reader to the life of Teddy Todd. Despite desiring to be a poet when he was younger, he ends up becoming a bomber pilot during the Second World War. I got immersed in his life and became quite interested in his relationship with his family. The revelation near the end of the book saddened me and took me completely by surprise. Continue reading