‘O Círculo Virtuoso’ by Maria Isabel Barreno

My rating: 3 stars

A collection of five short stories, O Círculo Virtuoso by Maria Isabel Barreno isn’t particularly memorable. The characters and storylines won’t be vivid in my mind for very long. Although it features a couple of auspicious moments, they leave an impression of unfulfilled potential, as they promise a type of narrative that is ultimately not achieved.

The first story in the collection, ‘O Diamante Roubado’, at first appears to be a crime mystery, but in fact it’s mostly about how writers will have to deal with failure sooner or later, which left me disappointed. Helena is one of those authors who sometimes struggles to write. Once, however, a story seems to come into her mind fully formed in a moment of glorious inspiration. The heroine of her story, which is part of the one we are reading, has the same name as her. In the story being written, Helena’s husband died close after the disappearance of a diamond from their house. The police are investigating.

Though ‘A Descida aos Infernos’, the following tale, features one of the same characters as the first, it doesn’t provide any answers. It is certainly philosophical, but not noteworthy. A speleologist encounters a man called Veloso in a cave. He is searching for Helena. Continue reading

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Books I Want to Read Until the End of 2021

There are only three full months left in 2021, and I’m falling behind in my reading challenge. In order to complete it, I will have to finish the eight books that I’m truly eager to read until the year is over. The list features both novels, short story collections and poetry. Some authors are new to me, while others are old acquaintances. Some books are massive, others are tiny. In terms of genres, they are as diverse.

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve only recently started reading The Luminaries and don’t have a strong opinion about it yet. As I don’t think I’ll DNF it, though, it is one of the books I want to finish until the end of the year. Set in 1866, it follows Walter Moody as he arrives in New Zealand to try his luck at the goldfields and to search for his father, who disappeared from Scotland. At the Crown Hotel, he encounters a group of twelve people who are discussing a series of crimes.

 

Não Se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

Set at the end of the 19th century, this novel by the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho has been on my wish list for years. The time has come to finally read it. After the abolition of slavery, a boat illegally carrying slaves sinks near the coast of Brazil, but a group of people manages to survive. They are the main focus of this book, which seems to be most of all a character study. Continue reading

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

Books Waiting Too Long to Be Read

I always try to keep my TBR pile under control. Thus, I generally read the majority of the books that I buy in the subsequent months. Occasionally, however, some of them are left waiting as I decide to pick up newer additions to my shelves. I’ve recently realised that there are five books on my shelves waiting to be read since 2017. I’m still interested in reading almost all of them, but my enthusiasm has waned since then.

 

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I bought this book back in January 2017, I believe, but for reasons unknown never got around to reading it. This is a crime novel written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym. Private detective Cormoran Strike investigates the apparent suicide of a troubled model. This will be the year that I’ll finally read it!

 

Vozes do Vento by Maria Isabel Barreno

This book by the Portuguese writer Maria Isabel Barreno is the one that I’m least eager to pick up. I read about four pages soon after buying it, but as I couldn’t get into it I decided to put it down and give it another try in the future. It is a family colonial saga set in Cape Verde. Continue reading

Book Haul – April 2017

I always try not to have too many unread books on my shelves. But, although my pile of to be read books is only slowly decreasing, I bought more books this month. Just four though! There was a sale on an online Portuguese shop and I wasn’t able to resist the temptation to buy some bargains.

So, I acquired the following books:

 

Jerusalém by Gonçalo M. Tavares

I have to confess that I know nothing about the plot of this book by Gonçalo M. Tavares. But this is one of the most renowned books by a contemporary Portuguese author. It was praised by many other famous writers, including José Saramago. I’ve also just realised that this is the third book in a series, but I believe that they may also be read as standalones. I bought the original in Portuguese, but there is an available translation into English by Anna Kushner, published by Dalkey Archive Press and titled Jerusalem. Continue reading