Favourite Opening Lines

By the time that we finish reading most books, the opening lines have already vanished from our memory. A selected few, however, linger on, long after we close the books and start new ones. They remain forever imprinted in our mind. My favourites are long and short, summarise the premise of the book or just leave readers wondering. There’s not a specific characteristic that distinguishes all of them.

 

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 3 stars

Patchy and uneven, Hard Times by Charles Dickens is a novel whose main purpose is to criticise the glorification of utilitarianism. For a long while, the characters and, to a certain extent, the plot are only used to convey that condemnation, instead of being critical elements of a gripping story. Although almost all of the characters and the apparent inconsequential parts of the plot end up being relevant, that only happens close to the end of the book.

The headmaster of the Coketown school, Mr Thomas Gradgrind, required his pupils to only be taught facts. His own children had the same type of education. Any activity that required imagination, emotions and creativity was forbidden. Once, when he found two of his children, Louisa and Thomas, watching a touring circus, he was appalled. Louisa had been curious to know what it looked like, though.

Sissy Jupe, a new girl at the school, was the daughter of a man who was a performer at the circus. So, Mr Gradgrind and his friend Mr Bounderby went looking for him to inform him that she couldn’t attend the school anymore. But, as Sissy’s father had disappeared, Mr Gradgrind made her a proposal instead – she could continue going to the school as long as she left the circus and he became her tutor. With great sadness, Sissy accepted. Despite not knowing many facts, reason why she was led to feel inadequate, she revealed an interesting perspective on social issues. Continue reading

Book Haul – March / April 2020

During strange times, there’s something calming about reading a book and get immersed in a fictional world, reason why I had to buy some books! This haul features classics, fantasy and historical fiction. I’ve already finished one of the books, and the others I expect to read soon.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time more than ten years ago. It was the first book that I read by Jane Austen. Having now read all of her major novels once, I decided to reread it, but this time in English, as I had previously read the Portuguese translation. So, I bought a beautiful Vintage Classics edition.

 

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

In the second book in The Farseer trilogy, Robin Hobb continues to tell the story of Fitz, as he faces grave danger and is asked to make sacrifices for the good of the realm. I expect this instalment to continue to explore human emotions and to also be full of court intrigue. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – December 2019

I pondered not to write a post about my favourites from December, as I only have one book to share with you. I watched a few films and started watching a couple of TV series on Netflix, but they were all a huge disappointment.

The most impressive book that I read this month was A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Set in London and Paris during the eighteenth century, before and right after the French Revolution, it is an engaging but demanding novel to get immersed in. Lucie Manette discovers that her father is not dead. With the help of Mr Jarvis Lorry, she takes him from Paris to England. During the journey, they meet Charles Darnay, who years later falls in love with Lucie. Their love story develops almost on the background, as social upheaval takes over France and has consequences on the lives of the characters. Overall, this is a thought-provoking book about how people who fought against tyranny can become tyrants themselves.

Next year, my monthly favourites will probably be slightly different, causing this lack of favourites not happen. But I’ll expand on that on my bookish resolutions for 2020. Continue reading

‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 stars

Love in its various forms is enfolded in an account of how those who fight against tyranny can become tyrants themselves in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. As the characters travel between London and Paris in the eighteenth century, readers are presented with a picture of the society of the time. Although this is a challenging and difficult novel to get immersed in, it ends up being engaging, since it raises stimulating questions.

In 1775, Mr Jarvis Lorry, a clerk at Tellson’s bank, had to accompany Miss Lucie Manette to Paris on a critical mission. Her father, who was long thought dead, had reappeared, and Mr Lorry’s assistance was fundamental to identify him. Monsieur Manette was hidden in a room at a wine-shop. He was making shoes, a skill that he had learnt while imprisoned for many years without a trial. Doctor Manette not only didn’t remember his time in prison, he also didn’t know who Mr Lorry and Lucie were. Mr Lorry managed to recognise him, though. And, as soon as it was possible, they took him to England.

Five years later, the three of them were called as witnesses at the trial of a man, Mr Charles Darnay, who had taken the same boat as them from Calais to England when they left France. He was acquitted after a successful defence by Sydney Carton, who looked very much like him. From that moment onwards, their paths became intertwined. Charles Darnay fell in love with Lucie Manette, who was kind and compassionate. But he was not the only one developing feelings for her. Continue reading

Book Haul – September / October 2019

I was not expecting to buy as many books as I did during September and this month. However, after deciding not to finish four novels in the latest months, I was running out of books to read. I usually keep a relatively small number of unread books on my shelves. I tend to only buy new ones once I’ve finished a few of those that I already owned.

So, I acquired nine new books!

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Set in Paris and in London, it was described by Dickens as his best story. A French aristocrat and a dissolute English lawyer face chaos and fall in love with the same woman. I’m expecting it to delve into a variety of social issues that characterised the 19th century. Continue reading

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 stars

Charles Dickens is an author whose books I frequently add to my wish list. A Christmas Carol is one of his most famous works and served as inspiration for a variety of films. It spreads the message that money is not the most important element for a life filled with happiness. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends is much more significant. Scrooge was a bitter man, but he was given the opportunity to discover the true meaning of Christmas and learn about compassion.

Scrooge despised Christmas. He was an old miser, whose former business partner, Marley, had died seven years before the beginning of the story. Nevertheless, he was to receive his visit once more. When Marley’s ghost appeared in his house, Scrooge didn’t want to believe his own eyes. The ghost was able to stand still, but his hair still moved like it was being blown by wind. He wore a chain, representing all the mistakes he had committed during his lifetime. He warned Scrooge that he would be visited by three spirits that would give him the chance to avoid Marley’s fate.

The spirits’ mission was to guide Scrooge through Christmas past, present and future, so he could learn some lessons on life. The festive spirit is present throughout the book, and it was interesting to know what various families did during Christmas day. However, the section on Christmas present went on for a bit too long, as some of the details didn’t grab my attention. Continue reading

Books in Primary Colours: Blue

In order to briefly comment on some of the books that I’ve either read before I started blogging or that I feel that I should talk about more often, I’m writing a three-part series of posts about three books whose covers are predominantly yellow, blue or red. Besides their covers being dominated by a primary colour, these books just need to have one more thing in common – to still have a place on my shelves.

For the second instalment in this series, I’ve chosen three books whose covers are blue-toned. Although I have reviewed the first two books listed below when I first started blogging, I haven’t mentioned them very often since then. The last one, I have read quite a while ago and, despite having liked it, don’t remember much about.

 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This is, so far, the only book that I’ve read by Charles Dickens, but I’m sure it will be the first of many. Pip tells us the story of his life since his childhood until the beginning of his adulthood. He was raised by his sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. At first, the tough conditions that he lived in didn’t seem to bother him. His only complaint was the abuse he was subject to by his sister. That changed when he was chosen to visit Miss Havisham and her adoptive daughter Estella, whom he ended up falling in love with. Pip then started dreaming for a better life. His ambition made him leave behind the people who cared for him. The first and second volumes are slightly monotonous at times, in spite of the fascinating characters. The third volume, on the other hand, is splendid, as all the previous events are connected. Continue reading

Book Haul – April 2018

On the 23rd of April, it was World Book Day in Portugal. To be honest, I didn’t know about the existence of such a celebration until I received a newsletter from a retailer announcing book discounts of up to 50%. As I later found out, UNESCO organises World Book Day annually to promote reading, publishing and copyright. However, World Book Day isn’t held on this date worldwide, because there is a probability that it may clash with Easter. For instances, in the UK, World Book Day is on the first Thursday in March.

Obviously, the promise of significant book discounts left me tingling with excitement. And I ended up buying the five books listed below!

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

This book by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson has been on my wish list for years, maybe since I first started watching BookTube channels. I don’t recall why I thought I would like it. But, seeing that I heard many people praising it at the time of its release, I decided to finally read it for the ‘EU still 28’ project. According to the blurb, it follows Nombeko Mayeki, who is on the run from a secret service. Continue reading

Christmassy Books on My Wish List

I’m not usually a seasonal reader. Reading a book set in summer during winter or vice versa doesn’t bother me at all. So, I never seem to have on my shelves the books deemed appropriate for a specific time of the year. To the best of my knowledge, I currently don’t have one single book on my to-be-read pile that is set during Christmas time. However, I have some on my wish list. I just haven’t bought them yet, and to be honest don’t know when I will.

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by three spirits, who teach him the true meaning of Christmas, in this book by Charles Dickens. Until watching a Doctor Who Christmas special inspired by this story a few years ago, I had no interest to read it, but I then became quite curious to know more about the source of inspiration for that episode.

 

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

I was introduced to this book by a fellow blogger, but I really can’t remember who, unfortunately. It is a compilation of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien to his children in which he pretends to be Father Christmas. Continue reading