Other Favourite Stories of 2020

I feel that in 2020 I spent more time watching TV series and films than reading books thanks to the pandemic. That doesn’t mean that I have a higher number of other favourite stories (those that I watched on a screen) to share with you than in previous years, though. The majority of the films that I watched were not particularly remarkable and many ended up just being background noise while I absentmindedly scrolled through social media feeds. There are four TV series, however, that I’ve highly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend.

 

Dark – Season 3

For sure one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched on Netflix, Dark is a German science fiction thriller about time travel and various families dealing with loss, grief and love. It can be quite complex, so viewers have to pay careful attention, which it’s not much to ask, seeing that the series is engaging and compelling. In season 3, all strands are convincingly linked together in a way that I didn’t see coming. I’ll definitely re-watch the entire series sometime in the future.

 

Dracula

A new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula was the first TV series I watched in 2020 on Netflix (it was originally created for the BBC, though). Claes Bang is flawless as Count Dracula. The first and second episodes are exquisite, terrifying and compelling. The third episode feels very different from the others, primarily because it’s set in modern-day England, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I liked how the creators of the show tried to present a reason for Dracula being afraid of certain objects. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – February 2020

March has already begun, but this post is still about February. During the shortest month of the year, I spent some of my free time reading books, watching TV series, listening to music and perusing through amazing blogs. And the time has come to share with you my favourites!

My favourite book from the ones that I read in February was Ensaio sobre a Lucidez (Seeing in the English translation) by José Saramago. It is an allegory that explores the complexities of democracy through an engaging prose. In the capital of an unnamed country, 83% of voters decided to vote blank in the local elections. As a result, the government isolated the city, whilst trying to uncover a reason behind the “epidemic” of the blank vote. While many of the characters are purely symbols, others feel like real human beings.

I had been waiting for the release of the second season of My Brilliant Friend for a while. Not only wasn’t I disappointed, I also enjoyed it more than the first one. As in the books by Elena Ferrante (I’ve only read the first two so far), the story of the friendship between Elena and Lila is gripping. The acting is also flawless. The only aspect that I’m not a huge fan of is the voice-over narration, which, nevertheless, annoyed me far less than in the first season. It helps the adaptation to be faithful to the books, but it’s something that I don’t tend to like on TV. Continue reading

Book Series – What I’m Reading

Reading book series is a great way to become fully immersed in a fictional world. I’m currently sinking my teeth into five book series and, until I finish at least one of them, I don’t plan to start a new one. Whenever I complete a book series, the plan is to replace it with another one of those on my wish list. I’m only mentioning on this post the series that I’m not caught up on (reason why the list below doesn’t feature A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) and that I want to finish.

 

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is the first trilogy in a larger fantasy series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. So far, I’ve only read the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice, which is set in the Six Duchies, a land ruled by the Farseers. Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is trained as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the Farseer family – the Skill. Not only is this book full of court intrigue, it also delves into various human emotions.

After finishing this trilogy, I’ll certainly read the other series set in the same world. Although I considered the possibility of reading all the series featuring Fitz first and only afterwards picking up the remaining ones, I’m now more inclined to read them in order of publication. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2018

My reading experience in 2018 was overall dominated by the ‘EU still 28’ project, which consisted in reading one book by an author from each of the still 28 EU member states. I have completed that challenge and, so far, have also managed to read in their entirety ten other books. I’m still reading Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson. But it wouldn’t be one of my favourite books this year even if I had finished it already, although I’m enjoying it. Thus, I’m ready to reveal which books stood out to me the most in 2018.

Despite not having rated any of the books that I picked up this year with 5 stars, I still read truly good ones. They just weren’t perfect in my eyes. I cannot lie, though, this was not the best reading year in terms of the enjoyment I got from the books that I chose. I gave three books 2 stars and didn’t finish other two.

I’ve rated many books with 4 stars, though. From those I’ve selected the five I liked the most and that were really close to deserve the coveted 5 stars. In reverse order, my favourite books from the ones that I read in 2018 are: Continue reading

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

Monthly Favourites – September 2018

I definitely won’t miss September, seeing that it personally was a horrendous month. As a result, I didn’t read much, having only finished two (not too big) books. I resorted to Netflix to pass the time instead and ended up watching more TV shows than usual.

My favourite book was A Amiga Genial (My Brilliant Friend) by Elena Ferrante. Elena Greco recounts her friendship with Raffaella Cerullo, who she has always called Lila. It is set in Naples and we are introduced to the harshness of the life there when they were young. I became so immersed in the characters’ lives that it felt that I was getting to know them intimately with each shared memory. It also features noteworthy reflections on class, social mobility and the importance of education.

Of the three TV series that I’ve watched in full last month, my favourite was La Casa de Papel (entitled Money Heist in English). It is a Spanish crime drama that was divided into two parts for Netflix. In total there are 22 episodes. A man, named the Professor, recruits eight people with apparently nothing to lose to carry out the biggest heist in history. Their aim is to enter the Royal Mint of Spain and print a huge amount of money for themselves. There is a huge focus on the characters. Throughout the episodes, we get to know more about their pasts and what they did during the planning of the heist. I hugely recommend this series, which both made me laugh and cry. Some of the scenes became even more hilarious because of the music chosen to accompany them. It also made me want to properly learn Spanish. I understand quite a lot of it, seeing that it is similar to Portuguese, but I can’t write it or accurately speak it. Continue reading

‘A Amiga Genial’ (‘My Brilliant Friend’) by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 4 stars

Highly well-regarded books tend to leave me nervous with anticipation and apprehensive about not liking them as much as almost everyone else does. I needn’t have worried about A Amiga Genial (My Brilliant Friend in the English translation) by the pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante, though. It tells the story of the friendship between two young women since childhood, while making critical considerations on class, social mobility and the importance of education. The sequence of episodes from their life is for the most part engaging and immersive. It felt like watching the events unfold.

The narration is gripping from the outset. The prologue immediately made me want to know more about what happened in the characters’ lives up to that moment. Rino phoned the narrator, Elena Greco, asking if she knew about his mother, Raffaella Cerullo, whereabouts. They have been friends for around 60 years. Raffaella, who the narrator has always called Lila, took everything that was hers from the house and even removed herself from the pictures. She wanted to erase herself from history. Displeased, the narrator has resolved to write down their story.

Their friendship started when they were children, at the specific time when they decided to go near Don Achille’s apartment. The narrator remembers the significant moment when Lila stopped, waited for her and held her hand. But Lila had always impressed and inspired her. Despite misbehaving more than the boys at school, she was the brightest child there, having taught herself how to read. Elena felt that she had to remain close to Lila, so that in a way she wouldn’t become a threat. Her parents wanted her to be one of the best in class, if she wanted to continue studying and not to have to leave school to help them. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2018

I bought a total of ten books in March. As I didn’t buy them all at once, it was only when I decided to write this post that I realised how many they were. I can’t truly remember the last time I bought so many books in just a month. The majority of them I’m going to read for my ‘EU still 28’ project, while others were at a discount and I don’t seem to be able to resist a bargain.

To know a little bit more about each of my choices, carry on reading!

 

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

I love the covers of the books by Daphne du Maurier from the Virago Modern Classics collection. Since I’m slightly afraid that they may vanish from the market before I have them all, once in a while, I buy one of them even if I don’t plan to read it soon. Jamaica Inn was recommended to me numerous times. It focuses on Mary Yellan, who, after the death of her mother, goes to her aunt Patience’s home. Continue reading