Favourite Books I Read in 2022

At the beginning of the year, I was full of hopes and dreams. One of them was to read more than 30 books. That didn’t happen! So far, I’ve read for pure enjoyment 22 books in full. Before the year comes to an end, I may still finish the enormous Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, which I’ve been reading for almost two months now, and probably have time to pick up another play by Shakespeare. I’m ready to reveal my favourite books of the year, though, since I don’t see either of them climbing to the top spots.

My reading experience in 2022 was varied and mostly positive, despite some let-downs. Not only did I read books from various genres – literary fiction, fantasy, classics, allegories, historical fiction, Ancient Greek myth retellings –, but they were also of many formats, including novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections, graphic novels and plays. Although I picked almost only books that were new to me, I also reread Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós, having finished the project “rereading my old favourites”.

From the books that I read for the first time in 2022, irrespective of publication date, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

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Books to Read during Christmas

If you’re an enthusiastic reader of Christmas books, this post is probably not going to be particularly useful to you. You’re certainly already familiar with the most celebrated ones. However, if you, like me, only rarely read books set around this time of the year, I have four book recommendations that may turn you into a seasonal reader in the blink of an eye. From novels to short stories and novellas, these books will either get you into the Christmas spirit or make you think about those whose Christmas is not being as joyful as it used to be. You just need to get under your blanket and get cosy!

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Probably the most famous book about the season, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a short book that explores the true essence of this time of the year. The main character, Scrooge, is a bitter man. In order to teach him about compassion, the spirit of his former business partner, Marley, guides him through Christmas past, present and future.

 

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

Jeanette Winterson’s book presents twelve short stories that are interspersed with recipes connected with a personal experience. They are all related to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Various of the stories feature magical and supernatural elements. While some are astoundingly atmospheric, others shine because of their believable characters. Continue reading

Five Books Set in London

Regardless of time period, London is always an appealing setting for a book. From streets booming with life to the quieter parks where mischievous squirrels thread, London has a plethora of places that are perfect for complementing a gripping story. After having visited the city a good few years ago, I became even keener on reading books taking place there. If you’re looking for books set in England’s capital, there are five that I enjoyed to varying degrees and that I definitely recommend, despite them not being necessarily favourites.

 

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

It’s a warm day in June and Clarissa Dalloway is getting ready to host a party. Via a stream-of-consciousness style and a third-person narration, readers are presented not only with her contemplations, but also those of her husband, her daughter, Peter Walsh and Septimus Warren Smith, as well as their interactions. In Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf also painted an alluring picture of London and its inhabitants, creating an authentic sense of time and portraying the socio-economic conditions of the population.

 

Saturday by Ian McEwan

London is almost a constant presence in Saturday by Ian McEwan, thanks to the many mentions of its streets. A demonstration against the Iraq war in February 2003 makes Henry Perowne, the main character, muse on personal satisfaction, the meaning of his life and the protest itself. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2022 – How Did I Do?

2022 was the first year I took part in 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy of the blog 746 Books. The challenge is simple, albeit not necessarily easy to achieve – read 20 books during the three summer months (it’s also possible to read only 10 or 15). As in a way I was already expecting to happen, I didn’t manage to read the 20 books I had selected at the end of May. I only read in their entirety eleven books, decided not to finish three and am still currently reading one (Human Acts by Han Kang).

Although this challenge allowed me to finally pick up books that had been on my wish list for a long time, I don’t think I’ll participate again next year, since it was far more taxing than I had anticipated. I thought that having a set number of books to read within a short space of time wouldn’t be a weighty pressure, but it ended up feeling like it. I usually only read one to three books a month (depending on the size), so I found it stressful to have to push myself to read more than usual. Well, I didn’t have to… but, particularly in July, I tried really hard to. Having only picked up short books also rendered the reading experience in a way monotonous.

Below is the list of books that I had set for the challenge, featuring links to the reviews of those I read and mentioning the ones that I DNFed. Continue reading

‘The Magic Toyshop’ by Angela Carter

My rating: 4 stars

Originally published in 1967, The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter occasionally reads like a Victorian novel sprinkled with Ancient Greek mythology influences. As the story progresses, it’s impossible not to start drawing comparisons with the work of Charles Dickens. The book features children who became orphans, a haunting wedding dress, a Christmas day that is not as it should be, and people living in meagre conditions. However, it is also a coming-of-age novel that explores the sexual awakening of a young woman.

Fifteen-year-old Melanie is the main character in this novel. She has two younger siblings – Jonathon and Victoria. They are being looked after by their housekeeper, Mrs Rundle, since their parents are away in America. One day a telegram arrives. Their parents have died in an accident. While Jonathon and Victoria don’t seem to realise how their lives are about to change, Melanie feels that her entire world is falling apart. To make matters worse, she believes that there must be a connection between her having worn her mother’s wedding dress and the death of her parents. It haunts her.

Soon they learn that they are to live with their mother’s brother from then on. Uncle Philip, whom Melanie is only aware of thanks to a photo of her parents’ wedding, is a toymaker in London. It’s not him who is waiting for them at the train station, though. Instead, they are picked up by Finn and Francie, who are their aunt’s brothers. Continue reading

Most Disappointing Books of 2019

Every year there are books that I hope to at least mildly enjoy but that end up being disappointing for a variety of reasons. 2019 was sadly full of those books. And they were not disappointing in the sense that I only didn’t love them as much as I was expecting to. I truly didn’t like them. Some I read in their entirety and rated with two stars, while others I decided not to finish, as I had no hope to start enjoying them at any point.

First, there were three books that I read until the very end but that I didn’t like.

 

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

Two women, Hester and Rebekah, who are developing feelings for one another, try to discover why people are disappearing around London in 1831. The premise sounded promising. However, there is no aura of mystery throughout the book, in part because the descriptions are soulless. The plot is unjustifiably meandering. Some events are completely unnecessary for the clarification of what is supposed to be the main mystery. And there is also too much telling and not enough showing. I only kept reading because I was mildly curious to know the reason behind the disappearances. Continue reading

Book Haul – February 2019

I managed to wait until February to buy books for the first time in 2019! It was really difficult to resist the urge to get new books until the second month of the year, although I still had a few unread ones on my shelves. I bought a total of eight books, unintentionally almost all of them were written by women.

 

Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Soon after getting married, Elsie became a widow. She has no friends amongst the servants nor the villagers. Her only company seems to be her late husband’s awkward cousin, until she finds a locked room where there is a wooden figure which strongly resembles herself. I am eager to be frightened by this book!

 

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This historical novel immediately caught my interest at the time of its release last year, but I decided to wait for the paperback edition. I started reading it soon after it was delivered and am now more than halfway through. Although I am enjoying discovering more about the characters, I was expecting more in terms of plot. One of Jonah Hancock’s captains sells his ship in exchange for what appears to be a mermaid. At first, he is appalled by the loss of his ship. However, his captain convinces him that by exhibiting the mermaid he can make a big profit. It’s thanks to his mermaid that he meets the beautiful courtesan Angelica. Continue reading