Books Worth the Hype

Occasionally there is so much hype surrounding certain books that, instead of being confident that I will enjoy them, I become afraid of reading them. Books that attract a lot of attention, either after being heavily promoted by publishers or loved by many people in the bookish community, can, thus, remain on my shelves or wish list for a long time before I finally decide to pick them up. Some books I end up not understanding why they were so hyped, while others I fully recognise their merits.

Below are some of the books that, in my opinion, are worth all the previous hype around them. They were all written by contemporary authors, seeing that these are the ones that tend to be more publicised and that classics have already passed the test of time. I didn’t love all of them, but I definitely enjoyed them enough to recommend you reading them in case they sound like something you would like.

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I became aware of Jessie Burton’s debut novel when it was released, seeing that it kept appearing on various book hauls on BookTube. I didn’t pay much attention to what it was about to be honest. But I knew that I wanted it on my shelves, because I had fallen in love with the gorgeous cover. This is obviously not the best reason to buy a book. Nonetheless, it ended up being a good acquisition, since I adored it when I finally read it. 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

My Least and Most Viewed Reviews

Book reviews are the type of posts I most like to write for this blog, and they are also the ones that take me the longest to complete and edit. Nevertheless, they tend to have less views than the rest of the content on my blog. At least this is the perception I have. I don’t analyse my blog statistics thoroughly and frequently, thus there is a slight possibility that I’m wrong.

But this is something that has been intriguing me lately. So, I took a quick look at my blog stats to discover the reviews with the most and the least number of views. The titles of the books mentioned below link to the full reviews.

 

My Three Most Viewed Reviews

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The reason why I think this is my most viewed review is that it was published around the time when The Power was announced as the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017. Told from various points of view, it delves into what happened when women discovered they had the power to electrocute other people with their hands. I quite liked the premise but didn’t enjoy the execution as much. Continue reading

Favourite Books Written by Women

Ahead of International Women’s Day, on 8th March, I put together a list of my favourite books written by women. Although I believe that unintentionally I still read more books by men than by women, it wasn’t difficult at all to come up with these five magnificent books by female authors. In fact, I could have mentioned many more books than the ones below, but I wanted to keep the list short.

In no special order, these are some of the books written by women which were a delight to read:

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

One of the most captivating books I’ve ever read, Rebecca was my first foray into Daphne du Maurier’s work. It is narrated by an unnamed woman who recalls meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. She accepted to marry him, and they went to live at Manderley, his family home. There, the shadow of his deceased first wife, Rebecca, was even more present. Apparently, she had exceled at everything, so the narrator’s doubts and insecurities became overwhelming. The characters are complex, and the prose is utterly atmospheric. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2017

When I started reflecting on my reading experience in 2017, the first word that sprang to mind to describe it was ‘inconsistent’. It wasn’t a particularly extraordinary year, but it was also far from bad. A couple of the books that I read I ended up loving, a few I quite liked, and others were satisfactory. However, I really didn’t like three books, having rated them with 2 stars, and also gave up on reading two books without even reaching 1/3 of their length, and thus I can’t really make a fair assessment about them.

In terms of numbers, I’ve read 33 books so far and will probably finish another one before the actual end of the year. I do know that this is a really small number for many people, but for me it’s a great one, since I’ve only managed to read 19 books in 2016, and not that many years ago I was probably not even reading more than one book per month.

My favourite books from the ones that I read this year, in reverse order, are:

Continue reading

Favourite Books with a Historical Backdrop

Whenever I’m book shopping, one of the many things that catches my attention is the time period in which a story is set in. I tend to like books which either the entirety or only part of the action takes place at the time of an important historical event. These are books whose fictional characters and events end up being embroiled in a real historical episode in one way or another and that can be labelled as historical fiction or not.

I categorise as historical fiction the books that not only are set in the past, but that also were written by authors who were born after the time period in which their novel unfolds. In these cases, authors don’t have a first-hand experience of the period they depicted in their novels. Books with a historical backdrop, on the other hand, can be written by authors who lived during the time period the story is set in or not. But, and more importantly for this distinction, besides depicting the manners and other details about a particular time period, these books feature an important real historical event. So, for me, a novel with a historical backdrop is not necessarily historical fiction.

After explaining how I describe books with a historical backdrop, I can now reveal which are my favourites. Continue reading

‘The Muse’ by Jessie Burton

My rating: 5 stars

A painting shrouded in mystery serves as the trigger for the plot of The Muse by Jessie Burton. This is a beautifully crafted novel featuring several themes that gracefully come together in a story connecting two time periods: 1936 and 1967. Insights into artists’ feelings are mixed with criticisms on both unequal treatment of women and racism, achieving an enthralling read.

Odelle Bastien moved from Port of Spain (Trinidad) to London looking for a better life. She has a degree in English Literature, but is working in a shoe shop, what doesn’t stop her from hoping to get another job where she can better apply her skills. 1967 is the year when she receives a letter from Marjorie Quick offering her a job as a typist at the Skelton Gallery.

She narrates the story in the first person. The reader has direct access to her thoughts and feelings, how she always wanted to write, how she becomes amazed by Quick after starting her new job, and how she is struggling with the fact that her best friend Cynthia is not going to live with her anymore after getting married. Continue reading

Book Haul – January 2017

New year, new books. Well, at least they are new to my shelves. At the beginning of this month, I bought a few books that I have either been wanting to read for a while or that I have discovered more recently. During this year, I will try to read both the books that I’ve just bought and the ones that I already owned before buying new ones. However, I have a feeling that that won’t happen and that I won’t resist the temptation of buying more books.

These are the books I bought this month:

 

The Muse by Jessie Burton

I loved Jessie Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist, and ever since The Muse was released I have been wanting to read it. However, as I much prefer paperbacks, I patiently waited until now. I plan to read it pretty soon to know everything about a lost masterpiece and the connection between the characters from two time periods – 1967 and 1936. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2016

2016 is coming to an end. So, this is the perfect time to reveal my favourite books that I read during the year. I have only rated two of these books with five stars, since, apparently, I expect a five-star read to fulfil a lot of requirements. But some of the books mentioned below are quite high four-star reads (in a way I regret having decided not to give half-star ratings) and, thus, deserve recognition.

I chose as my favourites five books from the nineteen that I read in 2016. In comparison with other bloggers, I don’t read that many books per year, but some of them were quite long and I also don’t listen to audiobooks, since it’s hard for me to focus on what I’m only listening to for a long period of time. Of the nineteen books that I read, one was non-fiction, three can be considered children’s books, and three were poetry collections.

In reverse order, these are the best books that I read in 2016: Continue reading

Books That Made Me Want to Travel

Books have the phenomenal power to make us instantly travel to a distant or close land, which can be either real or imaginary, every time we immerse ourselves in the pages. Sometimes the desire to travel lingers after we get to the end of the book and the story is over. The wish to visit a different place may stem from wanting to know in real life the location where the story was set in or to discover the city or country the author has grown and lived in.

After finishing both The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Tales of Hans Christian Andresen by the Danish author and illustrated by Joel Stewart, I added Amsterdam and Copenhagen to the list of places I wish to visit in the future. Well, to be honest I already wanted to go to Amsterdam before I read The Miniaturist, but Jessie Burton’s powerful descriptions reinforced that desire even more.

Amsterdam is where 18-year-old and recently wed Petronella Oortman comes to live with her husband, Johannes Brandt, who offers her a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she employs a mysterious miniaturist whom she desires to discover. So, she walks through the streets of Amsterdam and along the canals, which become frozen during the winter. As soon as I finished the book, I really wanted to get on a plane, stroll through the streets of Amsterdam myself, and sail the canals, flanked by the typically narrow but high buildings. Continue reading