Monthly Favourites – September 2020

I’m starting to dread writing my monthly favourites and there’s only one reason for that. I’ve no idea how to introduce these posts anymore without sounding like a broken record. Well, what can I say? This instalment is short and sweet, as it consists only of a book, a film and a song.

If you’ve read my review of The Confession by Jessie Burton, you may be surprised to know that it is my favourite book from the ones that I read in September. I enjoyed reading it, but I sounded disappointed in my review, since I couldn’t help comparing it to Burton’s previous novels, which I adored. Her third book for adults is a story about motherhood which promises to reveal what happened to Rose’s mother, Elise Morceau, who disappeared before her first birthday. In order to discover what happened, Rose decides to go look for Constance Holden, the last person to see her. Although it features a mystery, this is mainly a character-focused novel. The characters get progressively more interesting and the story more engaging.

Near the end of the month, I highly enjoyed watching Enola Holmes on Netflix. The main character of this film, played by Millie Bobby Brown, is the teenage sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Their mother leaves one night without explanation and Enola, who had a very special education, decides to go search for her in London. It’s both funny and endearing. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – July 2020

August is already underway, but I still have to share with you my favourites from last month. I haven’t forgotten! They include a book, a film, a blog post and a music album.

My favourite book from the four that I finished in July is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It is an engrossing retelling of the Iliad that, despite being told mainly from the point of view of Briseis, who became a bed-slave during the Trojan war, also presents the perspectives of Achilles and Patroclus at some occasions. As the story is told from different viewpoints, it successfully sets a contrast between how women who became slaves had to grieve quietly, while men were free to do so openly. It features believable, intricate characters and evocative descriptions.

Throughout last month, I mainly watched TV series, but none blew me away. I enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2, the only film that I watched, far more. Taking place a few years after the first film, this computer-animated fantasy film is both sad and comforting. Vikings and dragons live in harmony until their lives are disturbed by Drago. I also cherished learning more about Hiccup’s family. Continue reading

Films I Watched Before Reading the Books

Many people favour reading the books before watching the film adaptations. I don’t have a strong preference. While sometimes I make sure to read the book beforehand, other times I just watch the film and then read (or not) the book afterwards. In fact, I discovered a couple of my favourite books thanks to their adaptations. There are at least four films that I watched before picking up the books.

 

Atonement

Directed by Joe Wright and released in 2007, Atonement was the film that introduced me to the work of Ian McEwan. I read the book (more precisely the Portuguese translation) shortly after watching the film at the cinema. Set in different time periods, the story starts in 1935, when Briony is rehearsing a play. She misunderstands the relationship between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie, leading her to want to atone for her actions.

 

Pride and Prejudice

I also watched the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen before reading the book. I know that not everyone is a fan of this film, directed by Joe Wright, but I love it and have watched it many times, since a friend recommended it to me more than a decade ago. The plot is well known. Mrs Bennet is eager to marry her five daughters. Elizabeth, the second eldest, is intelligent, playful, witty and believes that she is a great reader of characters, although she sometimes judges people without knowing all the facts. One of them is Mr Darcy, who struggles to overcome his pride. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – April 2020

April seems to have flown by considering everything that is going on. Although I’m still reading even more slowly than usual, I have quite a good book to share with you today, together with a film, a post by a fellow blogger and a couple of YouTube videos.

My favourite book from the ones that I read during the month that has just ended is The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal. Set in 1850, it has as main character Iris. She strongly desires to become a painter, even if her aspiration is not considered appropriate by her family. Her life changes in various ways when she meets Silas, a taxidermist, and Louis, a painter who wants her to be his model. This is a story about desire for independence, freedom and the difference between love and obsession. Not only is the plot gripping, but there’s also a great creation of ambiences. Despite the characters feeling slightly artificial at first, they become fully fledged.

Every other April, the film Capitães de Abril (April Captains), first released in 2000, is broadcast on Portuguese TV. I had partially watched it in various occasions, but this was the first time that I watched it from the very beginning until the end. It is not the best film ever made, but I highly enjoyed it. Directed by Maria de Medeiros, it is about the Carnation Revolution, which put an end to the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. It’s a mix of real and fictional characters and events. The main focus is on Salgueiro Maia, played by Stefano Accorsi, who was one of the captains that led the military forces. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – January 2020

January has come to an end, so it’s time for the first edition of my monthly favourites of 2020! As I’ve mentioned in my bookish resolutions for this year, from now on these overviews will also start including my favourite blog posts and YouTube videos from each month. This month, they are accompanied by a book, a TV series and a film.

The book I enjoyed the most was The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. It’s an enthralling mystery and family drama that explores the difficulties faced by women in the 20th century. Laura Chase, Iris’s sister, drove a car off a bridge ten days after the end of the Second World War. What was the real reason behind Laura’s fate? The answer is confirmed at the end of this great novel, which consists of a first-person narration by Iris, various news pieces and a short book written by Laura. Although it is occasionally too slow paced, I highly recommend it.

I also spent a great couple of hours watching Dracula on Netflix (I believe it was originally created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for the BBC). It’s one of those series that I’ll certainly re-watch many times to discover new details. Claes Bang is perfect as Count Dracula. The first episode is terrifying, and the second is strangely compelling, considering that it’s set in such a confined space. The third episode has a completely different feeling from the others. It reminded me of Sherlock at times, not only because it’s set in modern-day England, but also because the interactions between Dracula and Van Helsing resembled those of Moriarty and Sherlock. Despite being my least favourite of the episodes, I still highly enjoyed it. I liked how it tries to come up with an answer to why Dracula fears certain objects. Continue reading

Other Favourite Stories of 2019

Books are undoubtedly the protagonists of this blog. However, I also consume stories, be they fictional or not, through other forms of media. So, I like to annually compile and share with you my other favourite stories, which are usually TV series and films. From the ones that I watched for the first time in 2019, I have four favourites.

 

Game of Thrones – Season 8

The last season of Game of Thrones was surely divisive. I’m part of the seeming minority (or maybe of the less vocal majority) who liked it immensely. I’ve discussed the reasons behind my enjoyment in significant detail on my monthly favourites of April and May, so I’m going to avoid spoilers and be brief this time.

Season 8 is visually stunning, atmospheric and emotive. Not only did I cry, but I also laughed. The acting is outstanding, the camera work is fantastic, and the score is perfect. I don’t think that I’ve mentioned it before, but I loved the final montage. The actions of the characters, in my opinion, result fully from their personalities and are a consequence of their life experiences. Although there is one occurrence that, at first, feels slightly anticlimactic, everything makes sense. I would have liked it to be one or two episodes longer (I think I’ve used the term ‘a couple of’ before). They were not necessarily needed for a fitting telling of the story, but I selfishly wanted more interactions between the characters. Their state of mind would have been even clearer. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – June 2019

June has come and gone, so it’s time to share with you my monthly favourites! This instalment features a book, a TV miniseries, a film and a song, and I promise to be much more concise than in previous months.

I haven’t read many books in June, but they were all enjoyable. The one that stood out the most was In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan. It’s the fourth book in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series and focuses on how Isabella became a dragon naturalist at the Scirlind army. Her work took her to Akhia to try to breed dragons. The entire series mixes anthropological, scientific and social components. Although it’s fantasy, it is written as a memoir, and the most intimate moments between the characters are marvellous.

I started a few TV shows this month, but I stopped watching the majority of them after just a couple of episodes. The most gripping one, which I completed in a few days, was Chernobyl. It’s a miniseries about the nuclear disaster that happened in Ukraine in 1986. The first episode is terrifying! I wish I hadn’t watched it before going to bed. I later discovered that the writers took some liberties with the scientific aspects of what happened, but it was still a good TV drama. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – February 2019

Although February is the shortest month of the year, I have more favourites to share today than I did regarding January. These include a book, two TV shows, a film, a song and a piece of entertainment news.

My favourite book from the ones that I read last month is The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. It is most of all a character-focused novel which takes place in eighteenth-century London. Jonah Hancock is a merchant who has just lost a ship in exchange for a mermaid. In order to recover the money that his ship was worth, he accepts to exhibit the strange creature. One of the places where it can be seen is at Mrs Chappell’s nunnery. There he meets the beautiful courtesan Angelica. The plot is not particularly gripping, but the convincing group of characters and the detailed writing style kept me enthralled until the very end.

I didn’t watch many films in previous months. In February, I did! While I watched all of them last month for the first time, the vast majority weren’t recent releases. Surprisingly for me, I really enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon (the first one). It’s a computer-animated fantasy film that takes place in a Viking world where a teenager wants to become a dragon slayer. He ends up learning that acceptance is worth more than fear and violence. Continue reading

Other Favourite Stories of 2018

Reading is my favourite pastime, but it’s not the only one. I love a good story irrespective of it being told through the written word or on a screen. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I usually mention the TV series and films that I enjoyed greatly on my monthly favourites. From the ones that I watched for the first time in 2018, I selected those which I liked the most.

 

The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this film tells the story of Elisa, a mute cleaning lady who fell in love with an amphibian creature that was being kept in a government’s laboratory in the 60’s. Sally Hawkins is fantastic in it. She completely convinced me that it was possible to fall in love with such a peculiar (and somewhat attractive) being. I was thrilled when it won the Oscar for best picture.

 

Dark – Season 1

I believe this was the first German TV series that I’ve ever watched. It is set in a fictional town where a nuclear plant is located. After the disappearance of two children, we are shown how the past and the present of four families are connected. It’s highly addictive and puzzling. I can’t wait for the next season! Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – July 2018

July hasn’t been a particularly noteworthy month when it comes to my reading accomplishments. Nonetheless, I fortunately still have some genuine favourites to share with you today, including a film, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while.

I’ve only read two books this month, seeing that it took me forever to finish The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson, which was slightly disappointing. So, obviously, my favourite book from July has to be the other one that I read – The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. It may not be a phenomenal book, but I was honestly interested in the expedition that the main characters embarked on to prove the existence of a lost world where dinosaurs were still alive. I also really appreciated the fictional exploration of alternative evolutionary theories.

At the beginning of the month, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale came to an end, so this is the last time for a while that this TV series will be featured on my monthly favourites. I wasn’t expecting that particular ending. It answered some questions and raised a couple of others more, which obviously left me eager to watch the next season. But what I found exceptionally great about it this year was the character development. Continue reading