Favourite Book Covers VII

It has been more than a year since I last shared with you my favourite book covers, but my love for gorgeous books (inside and out) hasn’t decreased a bit. Although paperback editions are still my all-time favourites, I also have a soft spot for colourful naked hardbacks. They are still a bit too heavy, but them not having an annoying dustjacket is a huge plus. Non-removable “stickers”, on the other hand, is an idiotic trend that publishers should refrain from following. They didn’t fully prevent me from loving some of the covers below, but they would look much better without them.

My latest favourite book covers just seem to have one thing in common – the colour blue is present in many different tones (one so dark that it could be black)!

 

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Cover design: Angie Lewin

Publisher: Virago Press

Collection: Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection Continue reading

Authors I’m Apprehensive about Reading a Second Book by

Sometimes relishing reading a book by an author new to us is not enough to leave us excited about picking up a second one. Some of the reasons why that may happen are that the author’s other books may not sound as something we will enjoy as much, they may be from a completely different genre, or they may not be as universally loved as the one we’ve already read.

There are three authors whom I’m apprehensive about reading a second book by. Two of those authors I don’t even have other books by on my wish list. The other one I do, but I’ve been hesitant about finally reading one of them for a couple of years.

 

Maggie O’Farrell

Last year I read and utterly adored Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s a fictional story about the death of the son of William Shakespeare, who is not even once mentioned by his name. Grief oozes from the pages, as the characters’ emotions, namely those of Agnes, are intense and tangible. I haven’t since added any other of O’Farrell’s books to my wish list, though. Why? I have a little voice in my head telling me that all of her other books are a far cry from Hamnet, both in terms of genre and writing style, and that I probably won’t enjoy them, which may well not be the case. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2021

2021 hasn’t been the year during which I read the highest number of books by no stretch of the imagination, but I surely read some good ones. Picking up some massive books throughout the year didn’t help, particularly because I ended up not finishing three of them, so they didn’t count for my read books. So far, I’ve read in their entirety 22 books. Until the end of the year, I’m still hoping to finish the humongous The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb and to read another two much shorter books. None of these are likely to be good candidates for my favourite books of the year, though.

Throughout 2021, I read books from various genres and of several formats. Novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections were all part of my reading choices. They can be categorised as historical fiction, fantasy, dystopian and literary fiction. The majority of the books that I read were new to me, but I also reread two books. Livro by José Luís Peixoto I certainly enjoyed, although not as much as I remember doing the first time, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Only taking into consideration the books that I read for the first time in 2021, however, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words. Continue reading

‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 4 stars

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s famous portrait, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier tells one of the many possible and plausible stories about the face that stands out from the painting’s dark background. The novel is narrated in the first person by sixteen-year-old Griet. She recalls how she came to sit for Vermeer in a historical fiction novel that features many interesting characters whose tribulations deserved to be even further explored.

In 1664, Griet became a maid at Vermeer’s household. She had to start working outside the home, because her family was struggling financially. After losing his eyesight in an accident, her father couldn’t continue to be a tiles painter and lost all his trade. Griet’s new job was not only to wash all their clothes and to buy meat or fish at the market, but also to clean Vermeer’s studio. When she arrived at their house, she was astonished at all the paintings. She didn’t have much free time to stare at them, though, as Johannes and his wife, Catharina, who was pregnant again, had five children, and his mother-in-law, Maria Thins, also lived with them.

Griet was only allowed to go home on Sundays. News about her parents and siblings, Agnes and Frans, were scarcer than she would have liked. It was Pieter, the son of the butcher at the market, who told her that the neighbourhood where her parents lived had been put into quarantine because of an outbreak of the plague. She wanted to go home immediately but was not allowed to. Pieter managed to find out for her that her sister was seriously ill. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2021

March felt like a good month to get more books, though since last year I’ve been trying to read all of the books that I own before buying new ones. This haul consists of both novels and short story collections, almost all of them written by women. Some have been on my wish list for ages, others are more recent discoveries.

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a servant girl who becomes the student and muse of the Dutch painter. Scandal erupts when he gives her his wife’s pearl earrings to wear for a portrait. I’ve been meaning to read this historical fiction novel for ages and hopefully won’t be disappointed.

 

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield’s debut collection of short stories is supposedly filled with lyrical prose and dark humour. How could I resist buying it? Various feelings are explored in these tales: isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Continue reading