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

Authors I Want to Give A Second Chance to

To delve into the work of an author for the first time is both a thrilling and unnerving experience. While to read a book by a writer we are familiar with feels like returning home, to immerse ourselves in the work of an author new to us is a foray into uncharted territory. Although sometimes we end up discovering a new favourite, it is also possible to get highly disappointed. Below are some of the authors whom the only book that I read by didn’t impress me much (I rated it with either 3 or 2 stars), but to whom I want to give a second chance.

 

Ali Smith

I made my first foray into Ali Smith’s work with Autumn, the first book in a planned seasonal quartet. The plot isn’t easy to explain, because it wanders amidst the flow of the characters’ thoughts and reminiscences. It delves into the bond forged between Daniel Gluck and Elisabeth Demand, as well as into some current events, including Brexit. I was left with quite mixed feelings, being both in awe of the way Ali Smith managed to craft some sentences and bored by the lack of plot development.

At first, I thought that I wouldn’t want to read Winter, the second book in this collection of standalones, but so many people have been praising it that I’ve changed my mind. 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

Most Disappointing Books of 2017

Unfortunately, we, readers, not always enjoy the books we decide to pick up. Irrespective of how much research we do on a book, our expectations may end up not being met. In 2016, the year I started blogging, I read two books that disappointed me, although I didn’t completely dislike them. They were just tolerable reads I was expecting to like much more than I actually did. This year, however, I can surely say I didn’t like three of the books that I read.

 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The main character of this novel, Jim Hawkins, unknowingly joins a group of pirates in search of Captain Flint’s hidden treasure. I was hoping for a thrilling adventure, but instead got a joyless bland story which I, nevertheless, manged to read until the end.

 

Homens Imprudentemente Poéticos by Valter Hugo Mãe

After liking A Desumanização by the Portuguese author Valter Hugo Mãe, I was expecting to also enjoy this novel about two Japanese neighbours, Itaro and Saburo, who are in open conflict. But my expectations were completely misplaced. The plot didn’t appeal to me at all and the writing style completely overpowered the story. Its pretentiousness even irked me in some instances. Continue reading

‘Os Memoráveis’ by Lídia Jorge

My rating: 2 stars

The fundamental thing to know about Os Memoráveis by the Portuguese writer Lídia Jorge is that in its essence it really isn’t a book about the events that took place on 25 April 1974, the day that marked the end of four decades of dictatorship in Portugal, despite them being mentioned throughout. This novel is most of all an account of how people perceive their past and struggle to adapt to present-day life.

Ana Maria Machado is a Portuguese reporter living in Washington. At the end of 2003, she was invited to the house of the ambassador who was the official envoy of the US in Portugal in 1975 and was compelled to work on a documentary about the revolution that had taken place almost 30 years before. While they were discussing how impressive it was that it ended up being a peaceful revolution, she pretended not to remember neither the name of the flower which became the symbol of the insurrection nor of the song that served as the signal to start the military operation. She was reluctant to accept to take part in the project, as apparently there were some unsolved family issues she didn’t want to face.

However, after reading several old letters kept by the ambassador, she became more interested in that story of the country she had left behind and accepted to work on the documentary, which was going to be supervised by Bob Peterson, the ambassador’s godson. She thus returned to Portugal and asked two of her former university colleagues for assistance. Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2017

There are only three months left in 2017 and there are still a few books I really want to read before the year comes to an end. These include fiction and non-fiction, novels and short stories. I’m expecting to love some of them, while others I have more doubts about. Nevertheless, I’m curious about what all of them have to offer.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is the book I have saved for Halloween. This is a horror story told through letters and diary entries. Count Dracula employs Jonathan Harker to advise him on a London home and, sometime after, alarming incidents start unfolding around England.

 

Ensaio sobre a Cegueira (Blindness) by José Saramago

I haven’t read a book by the Portuguese author and Noble Prize winner José Saramago in quite a while, but I plan to change that soon. Ensaio sobre a Cegueira, Blindness in the English translation, is a sort of allegory about how the population of a city becomes blind and is confined to an asylum. Continue reading

Book Haul – September 2017

I bought more books! Are you surprised? Probably not. I took some books from my shelves this month, so to celebrate I acquired some more. My bookcase is now again completely full. However, I’ve promised myself that I won’t be buying any more books until the end of the year, as I have more than enough to choose from. Will I be able to stick to my book buying ban? I’m not sure, but I’ll try really hard!

This month I did some online and in-store book shopping. These were my choices:

 

The Good People by Hannah Kent

I’ve been meaning to read a book by Hannah Kent for a really long time. I thought about reading her debut novel, Burial Rites, first, but then I fell in love with the cover of the paperback edition of The Good People, and bought it instead. It tells the story of Nóra who is trying to cure her grandson. He can’t speak nor walk and people believe him to be a changeling. Continue reading