Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

The mid of the year is just around the corner, so this is the perfect time to start reflecting on our reading year. I’ve recently watched Lauren from the YouTube channel Lauren and the Books doing the Mid-year Freak Out Tag and decided to answer the questions as well, although, if everything goes according to plan, I’ll read more books in the second half of the year than in the first and, therefore, the best may well be still to come.

 

  1. Best book you have read so far this year

One by One in the Darkness by Deirdre Madden is probably the best book I’ve read this year so far. Through a story of a grieving family, it paints a picture of the Northern Irish society during the Troubles. As the book goes back and forth in time, the fascinating characters come to life.

 

  1. Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

I’ve only read one sequel so far – The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. It is the second book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, which is set in a world where the figureheads of ships become alive, because they are made of wood with magical properties. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from ‘Our Wives under the Sea’ to ‘Hotel Iris’

It’s the beginning of the month, which means that it’s time for another chain of books. Six Degrees of Separation is a bookish meme created by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. Every month Kate chooses one book to start the chain and we just have to select other six, each connected in some way with the previous one.

For April the first book is Our Wives under the Sea by Julia Armfield, which I haven’t read yet, though I enjoyed her collection of short stories Salt Slow. In her debut novel, Miri is happy that her wife, Leah, has returned home from a deep-sea mission. Leah is struggling, however, as that mission has not ended well.

The title of Julia Armfield’s novel reminds me of the short story collection Diving Belles by Lucy Wood. The main character in the first tale, which is memorably atmospheric, goes under the sea on a diving belle to see her husband. The sea is, in fact, a recurring element in many of the stories featured in this collection. Continue reading

The Book Design Tag

When a book I’m interested in is published wrapped up in a beautiful cover, I cannot hide my excitement! I know that what truly matters is the text inside. However, an appealing cover, gorgeously designed, is always a more than welcome extra. As soon as I watched the Book Design Tag on Lil’s Vintage World YouTube channel, I knew that I had to answer the questions myself. How could I miss another opportunity to share and showcase some of the most stunning books that I have on my shelves?

 

  1. A book you bought primarily (or completely) because of the cover

I bought The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton solely because I fell in love with its gorgeous cover that tries to replicate a cabinet house. When I finally read it, I loved it so much that the first post I wrote for this blog was a review about it, although I had finished it a couple of months previously.

 

  1. A book you want to buy that has a beautiful cover

There are so many stunning books on my wish list that it isn’t easy to pick just one. So, I decided to mention the last beautiful book I added to the list of those I want to buy at some point in time – The Haunting Season. It is a collection of ghost stories written by various authors for this particular purpose. Continue reading

‘The Mad Ship’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Set in a world where the figureheads of ships become alive, wood has magical properties and pirates have great aspirations, The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb, the second instalment in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, continues to explore the characters presented in the first book, Ship of Magic (which I won’t be spoiling), while also introducing new ones. As the plot progresses, not only do we learn more about the characters, but we also start to uncover the connection between some of the fantastical elements in the story. However, the more we learn, the more curious we become about the intricacies of their correlation.

As the book starts, many of the familiar characters are dealing with complicated situations. Althea continues to try to prove herself worthy of captaining a liveship. Her interactions with Ophelia, the sassiest of liveships, are riveting. While Wintrow tries to find a way to help his family, Vivacia’s loyalty seems to be increasingly more divided, thanks to what she has been subjected to. Paragon is still being shunned by his family. And the sea serpents continue their quest to find the One Who Remembers, in order to being able to recall who they truly are.

It’s not only the more personal lives of the characters that are in turmoil, though. The Old Traders of Bingtown are not pleased with the way they are being treated by the current Satrap of Jamaillia nor with the new fees imposed on them. The conflict between them introduces two new characters to the story – the Satrap himself, who is a spoilt, irresponsible young man, and one of his advisors, Serilla. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2021

2021 hasn’t been the year during which I read the highest number of books by no stretch of the imagination, but I surely read some good ones. Picking up some massive books throughout the year didn’t help, particularly because I ended up not finishing three of them, so they didn’t count for my read books. So far, I’ve read in their entirety 22 books. Until the end of the year, I’m still hoping to finish the humongous The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb and to read another two much shorter books. None of these are likely to be good candidates for my favourite books of the year, though.

Throughout 2021, I read books from various genres and of several formats. Novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections were all part of my reading choices. They can be categorised as historical fiction, fantasy, dystopian and literary fiction. The majority of the books that I read were new to me, but I also reread two books. Livro by José Luís Peixoto I certainly enjoyed, although not as much as I remember doing the first time, and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell remains one of my favourite books of all time.

Only taking into consideration the books that I read for the first time in 2021, however, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

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

‘Ship of Magic’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Ships and pirates don’t usually play a significant part in the fantasy genre. That is not the case of the first book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb, though. Told from different perspectives, Ship of Magic introduces readers to a world where the figureheads of ships can become alive. Throughout the book, various exciting and fleshed out characters seem to be put in the right place for a couple of questions to be answered in the rest of the series. How did liveships truly come about? Why are serpents following some ships and attacking their crews?

Kennit is the captain of one of many pirate ships. He had legendary good luck, and no one could have any doubts about it. For that reason, he kept it a secret that he owned a charm, a carved face of wizardwood, to avoid being subject to enchantments. He aspired to unite and be king of the Pirate Isles. He would then offer safe use of the Inside Passage up to the coast of Bingtown and Chalced to the merchants and traders, but for a fee of course. In order to know if he would be successful, he went to Treasure Island to offer valuable objects to the Others, a species with magical powers, in exchange for an answer. The general reply was yes.

The old Bingtown Traders own liveships, the only type of vessels that can sail the Rain Wild River. They are made of wizardwood and quicken when three family members from successive generations die on their decks. When that happens, their figureheads become alive, being able to talk and experience emotions. They have a special bond with the members of the family that bought them from the families that live in the Rain Wilds, the only place where wizardwood can be found. Continue reading

Favourite Supporting Characters II

The most memorable characters tend to be the protagonists. However, books are far more engrossing when their supporting characters are as realistic, complex and engaging. Per definition, secondary characters are not the focus of the main storyline, but they are still essential for our enjoyment of a story.

Since writing my first post about my favourite supporting characters, around four years ago, I’ve discovered a few more who are as remarkable. Daphne du Maurier created three of them, which is unsurprising considering her talent.

 

Richard Grenville – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier

Although Richard Grenville isn’t the protagonist of The King’s General, he is a critical character in the story. Honor Harris, the protagonist, explains why she fell in love with him. Their interactions, particularly at the beginning of the book, are amusing, charming and captivating. His actions are both kind and shameful. He is sarcastic, wild and careless with his finances. Continue reading

Quarterly Favourites – January to March 2021

During the last three years, I shared with you every single month my favourites from the books and blog posts I read, the TV series, films and YouTube videos I watched, and the music I listened to. However, since I was becoming bored of writing this kind of posts every month and new beloveds have been scarce, I decided to only start publishing a post about my favourites once every three months. The first instalment of my quarterly favourites will focus on the months from January to March.

Since the beginning of 2021, I’ve read five books and decided not to finish two. I loved rereading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, a well-known dystopian novel that portrays a society in the grip of an authoritarian regime, which survives thanks to mass surveillance and a high level of gaslighting. The main character, Winston, works in the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite information so it always serves the interests of the Party, whose face is the Big Brother. When he meets Julia, his life becomes even more in danger.

Other book I highly enjoyed reading was Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb. The last instalment in The Farseer Trilogy continues to focus on Fitz, a royal bastard whom we first meet as a child. Although the pacing is not always perfect, this is an overall immersive and gripping read about the difference between duty and greed for power. The ending of the series is satisfying and exciting. Continue reading

Plan to Read Robin Hobb’s Books in Order

Under the pen name Robin Hobb, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden wrote five book series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. When I finished my first book by Robin Hobb, I was inclined to only read the series that have Fitz as a central character. I’ve changed my mind, though! The last book in The Farseer Trilogy (the first published series set in this fictional world and that comprises Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest) left me eager to read all subsequent series as soon as possible, since it features elements that I feel will be further explored later on.

I’ve decided to draw a plan to read the remaining four series in order of publication until the end of 2023. This is not a fixed goal. It’s more of a guiding strategy that I may change at any time to suit my reading wishes. The dates mentioned are not set in stone.

 

The Liveship Traders Trilogy

Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies (the main location of The Farseer Trilogy), The Liveship Traders Trilogy is full of pirates and talking ships. These special ships are made of wizardwood, a material that can only be found in the Rain Wilds. To get there, one has to sail the Rain Wild River, something only a liveship has the power to do. My plan is to read the three books in this series until the end of the year: Ship of Magic in August, The Mad Ship in October and Ship of Destiny in December. Continue reading