Spring Book Recommendations

Many readers love using the seasons of the year as a form of inspiration when choosing the books that they are going to pick up next. I’m not a seasonal reader myself. However, I can see the appeal of reading books that are in some way connected with or take place during a current season. For that reason, this year I decided to recommend books that I feel suit certain seasons as they are starting.

Since Spring has just officially begun this week in the northern hemisphere, I have five recommendations that just scream “Spring” to me, because they are either set during this time of the year or are related to new beginnings in one way or another.


The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The plot of The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim is simple, but it will leave any reader in the mood to enjoy Spring. A group of women rents a small medieval castle in Italy to escape their normal lives during the month of April. Although they all have different reasons to want to spend some time away, their pleasant holidays will make all of them look at their lives from a different angle. The prose is deliciously, but subtly, ironic. There is a casual humorous tone throughout that is an enjoyable complement to the evocative descriptions of the characters’ surroundings. Continue reading


Books I Almost Loved II

If you have been following my blog for a while, you have probably already realised that very rarely do I rate a book with five stars. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like the vast majority of the books that I read. I do! I would, in fact, recommend all of the books that I give four stars to. However, only when a book is pitch perfect to me (that is when I wouldn’t change a single thing about it) do I award it a rating of five stars.

For that reason, there are books that I rated with four stars but that I was really close to adoring. Only a small detail prevented me from doing so. Almost three years after first writing a post about the books that I almost loved, I thought this was the perfect time to list the ones that were very close to be five-star reads since then.


The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Mostly told from the perspective of Briseis, who recalls her memories from the Trojan war, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker also presents the points of view of Achilles and Patroclus in the third person. This allows to set out a contrast between two ways of grieving. While the women who were enslaved had to grieve discreetly, men could openly seek revenge. The believable and complex characters together with the evocative and haunting descriptions turn this retelling of Homer’s Iliad into an engrossing story that shines on its own. The only reservation I had while reading is that the occasional use of too modern vocabulary can feel slightly grating, even if only momentarily. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2022

At the beginning of the year, I was full of hopes and dreams. One of them was to read more than 30 books. That didn’t happen! So far, I’ve read for pure enjoyment 22 books in full. Before the year comes to an end, I may still finish the enormous Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, which I’ve been reading for almost two months now, and probably have time to pick up another play by Shakespeare. I’m ready to reveal my favourite books of the year, though, since I don’t see either of them climbing to the top spots.

My reading experience in 2022 was varied and mostly positive, despite some let-downs. Not only did I read books from various genres – literary fiction, fantasy, classics, allegories, historical fiction, Ancient Greek myth retellings –, but they were also of many formats, including novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections, graphic novels and plays. Although I picked almost only books that were new to me, I also reread Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós, having finished the project “rereading my old favourites”.

From the books that I read for the first time in 2022, irrespective of publication date, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Five Books Set in London

Regardless of time period, London is always an appealing setting for a book. From streets booming with life to the quieter parks where mischievous squirrels thread, London has a plethora of places that are perfect for complementing a gripping story. After having visited the city a good few years ago, I became even keener on reading books taking place there. If you’re looking for books set in England’s capital, there are five that I enjoyed to varying degrees and that I definitely recommend, despite them not being necessarily favourites.


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

It’s a warm day in June and Clarissa Dalloway is getting ready to host a party. Via a stream-of-consciousness style and a third-person narration, readers are presented not only with her contemplations, but also those of her husband, her daughter, Peter Walsh and Septimus Warren Smith, as well as their interactions. In Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf also painted an alluring picture of London and its inhabitants, creating an authentic sense of time and portraying the socio-economic conditions of the population.


Saturday by Ian McEwan

London is almost a constant presence in Saturday by Ian McEwan, thanks to the many mentions of its streets. A demonstration against the Iraq war in February 2003 makes Henry Perowne, the main character, muse on personal satisfaction, the meaning of his life and the protest itself. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2022 – How Did I Do?

2022 was the first year I took part in 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy of the blog 746 Books. The challenge is simple, albeit not necessarily easy to achieve – read 20 books during the three summer months (it’s also possible to read only 10 or 15). As in a way I was already expecting to happen, I didn’t manage to read the 20 books I had selected at the end of May. I only read in their entirety eleven books, decided not to finish three and am still currently reading one (Human Acts by Han Kang).

Although this challenge allowed me to finally pick up books that had been on my wish list for a long time, I don’t think I’ll participate again next year, since it was far more taxing than I had anticipated. I thought that having a set number of books to read within a short space of time wouldn’t be a weighty pressure, but it ended up feeling like it. I usually only read one to three books a month (depending on the size), so I found it stressful to have to push myself to read more than usual. Well, I didn’t have to… but, particularly in July, I tried really hard to. Having only picked up short books also rendered the reading experience in a way monotonous.

Below is the list of books that I had set for the challenge, featuring links to the reviews of those I read and mentioning the ones that I DNFed. Continue reading

‘Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf

My rating: 4 stars

Stream of consciousness is not always the most appealing of writing styles. When authors are not successful in captivating readers from the outset, our attention can irredeemably drift away. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is a good example of how to employ such a challenging writing style to good effect. The third-person narration of the characters’ thoughts and interactions with those around them mirrors closely our intimate daily contemplations, while also painting an enthralling picture of London and its inhabitants.

On a warm day in the month of June, 52-year-old Clarissa Dalloway goes out to buy flowers. She is going to host a party that same night. When she returns home, she learns that her husband, Richard Dalloway, has been invited to lunch with Lady Bruton. That leads to a reflection on how she once fell in love with Sally Seton and on how she chose to marry her husband, with whom she has a daughter called Elizabeth, instead of Peter Walsh.

The book is not only about Mrs Dalloway, who is not as content as she once was. Something is missing in her life. It also focuses on what is happening around her, her friends and some of the people she crosses paths with, while she is concerned about her party. Peter Walsh, who was once in love with Clarissa and may well still be, has just returned from India. Septimus Warren Smith, who fought in the First World War, is showing worrying signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Their emotions come to life seemingly without effort and their gestures are easy to imagine, thanks to a precise choice of words, which are put together in sentences that play with rhythm. Continue reading