Books I Almost Loved

Very rarely do I rate books with five stars. For that to happen, a book has to be perfect in every regard in my opinion. I can’t even have a minor complaint. As I decided early on not to use half stars on my ratings, I always award four stars to books that weren’t flawless but that I almost loved. Only by reading the review can my high esteem for such books be fully perceived. The following eight books fall under that category.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

This retelling of an Ancient Greek myth resembles a fictional memoir. Circe, the daughter of Helios (the god of sun) and Perse (a nymph), was sentenced to exile as a punishment for using witchcraft against her own kind. Throughout the book, Madeline Miller delves into the meaning of love and the fear of losing a dear one. The prose is gripping and the characters feel truly real, thanks to a tangible portrayal of emotions, particularly those of Circe. However, the book loses a bit of its enchantment when Circe tells stories about Odysseus.

 

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

The first book in The Farseer Trilogy is not only a story of court intrigue and lust for power, but also a true interpretation of human emotions. When he was 6 years old, Fitz was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in, because he was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. Some years later, he started being trained as an assassin in secret. The detailed and absorbing writing style is one of the highlights of this fantasy book. Unfortunately, the last chapter is not as thorough and some events are just briefly mentioned. Continue reading

Other Favourite Stories of 2018

Reading is my favourite pastime, but it’s not the only one. I love a good story irrespective of it being told through the written word or on a screen. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I usually mention the TV series and films that I enjoyed greatly on my monthly favourites. From the ones that I watched for the first time in 2018, I selected those which I liked the most.

 

The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this film tells the story of Elisa, a mute cleaning lady who fell in love with an amphibian creature that was being kept in a government’s laboratory in the 60’s. Sally Hawkins is fantastic in it. She completely convinced me that it was possible to fall in love with such a peculiar (and somewhat attractive) being. I was thrilled when it won the Oscar for best picture.

 

Dark – Season 1

I believe this was the first German TV series that I’ve ever watched. It is set in a fictional town where a nuclear plant is located. After the disappearance of two children, we are shown how the past and the present of four families are connected. It’s highly addictive and puzzling. I can’t wait for the next season! Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – July 2018

July hasn’t been a particularly noteworthy month when it comes to my reading accomplishments. Nonetheless, I fortunately still have some genuine favourites to share with you today, including a film, something that hasn’t happened in quite a while.

I’ve only read two books this month, seeing that it took me forever to finish The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson, which was slightly disappointing. So, obviously, my favourite book from July has to be the other one that I read – The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. It may not be a phenomenal book, but I was honestly interested in the expedition that the main characters embarked on to prove the existence of a lost world where dinosaurs were still alive. I also really appreciated the fictional exploration of alternative evolutionary theories.

At the beginning of the month, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale came to an end, so this is the last time for a while that this TV series will be featured on my monthly favourites. I wasn’t expecting that particular ending. It answered some questions and raised a couple of others more, which obviously left me eager to watch the next season. But what I found exceptionally great about it this year was the character development. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – June 2018

June is over and July is already here. So, it’s time for me to reveal my newest monthly favourites. This instalment features a book, a TV series, music and a cheeky food reference. I didn’t watch a single film last month, but my ‘too-watch’ list keeps on growing. For whatever reason, I now find films too long. Nonetheless, binge-watching TV series feels totally acceptable (although I haven’t done that in a while either).

Last month I read three books and, without a doubt, my favourite was Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. Through different perspectives, we are told two intertwined stories, that of Mr. M, a renowned writer who used to be more successful that he currently is, and that of his somewhat creepy neighbour. It mixes a crime story with a reflection on writing and fiction. Despite having finished it at the beginning of June, I still sometimes recall the characters featured in this book.

My favourite TV series from last month is the same as in May – the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I particularly loved episode 10. It got me so emotional that I cried. The plot is developing relatively slowly, but that is allowing the viewer to know more about both the main and the secondary characters. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – May 2018

Another month has come to an end, and, as it’s now usual, I have some favourites to share with you. Carry on reading to discover which books, TV show, songs and shoes (a novelty) have enliven my month of May!

I read three books last month – S.: A Novel about the Balkans by Slavenka Drakulic, Nada by Carmen Laforet and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I would recommend all of them, but the one I appreciated the most was S.: A Novel about the Balkans. It tells the story of S., a woman who was repeatedly raped during the Bosnian war, while delving into a variety of extremely important and still relevant issues.

In spite of having only watched the first three episodes so far, I decided to choose the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale as my favourite TV series from May. I’m particularly relishing knowing more about the past of some of the secondary characters. For those who haven’t watched the first season or read the book yet (I recommend you do both), it is set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian, repressive and puritanical state established in the US, where some women are used by men to breed. Continue reading

Other Favourite Stories of 2017

To complete my recap on 2017, I present you to my favourite stories told through a medium other than books. When I first thought about doing such a list, I had in mind films, TV series, magazines and newspapers features, etc., that I loved during a year. However, 2017 was definitely the year of TV series for me, as none of the films I watched for the first time or features that I read stood out from the rest.

So, without further ado, these were the favourite TV series I watched in 2017:

 

Game of Thrones – Season 7

I can confidently say that Game of Thrones is my favourite TV series ever. It’s exciting and keeps me on the edge of my seat. It’s not only visually astonishing but also features complex and memorable characters. Season 7 felt a bit different from the previous ones, because many of the characters were now at the same locations, whereas before their paths didn’t cross. Some people complained about how everything seemed to be happening really fast with no much regard for the needed time to travel from one place to another. But, as the characters are more than developed now, in my opinion it would have been extremely boring to follow them during their travels. And we, as viewers, are supposed to know that time passes off-camera, not everything is shown. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2017

When I started reflecting on my reading experience in 2017, the first word that sprang to mind to describe it was ‘inconsistent’. It wasn’t a particularly extraordinary year, but it was also far from bad. A couple of the books that I read I ended up loving, a few I quite liked, and others were satisfactory. However, I really didn’t like three books, having rated them with 2 stars, and also gave up on reading two books without even reaching 1/3 of their length, and thus can’t really make a fair assessment about them.

In terms of numbers, I’ve read 33 books so far, and will probably finish another one before the actual end of the year. I do know that this is a really small number for many people, but for me it’s a great one, since I’ve only managed to read 19 books in 2016, and not that many years ago I was probably not even reading more than one book a month.

My favourite books among the ones that I read this year, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Favourite Dystopian Books

Lately the real world seems to be getting worryingly more similar to the ones portrayed by some dystopian novels, and my desire to read books from that genre is also increasing. By showing a regression of political, environmental, economic or social standards, they draw attention to real-world issues that should concern us all.

I haven’t read many dystopian novels, but I quite enjoyed the vast majority of them. There is something strangely appealing about reading a book that focuses on a community being plagued by an undesirable and frightening state of affairs. Today I reveal my three favourite dystopian novels, all delving into different types of societies.

 

1984 by George Orwell      

1984 takes place during a time of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation. Power is in the hands of a single party, which is personified by the Big Brother. The protagonist of the novel, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth as a rewriter of historical events. He has an affair with Julia, who shares his animosity towards the Party. Continue reading

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 stars

The Handmaid’s Tale can be described as a dystopian novel or as a work of speculative fiction, but at the same time it is far more than that. Margaret Atwood created a classic full of enlightening remarks about equality, freedom (or the lack of it), love, feminism and women’s agency, which serves as a warning that even the most fundamental rights can be lost.

The novel takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and repressive state that has established a puritanical society in the USA, where there seems to exist a problem of infertility. People are set apart according to functions, each group having a specific name and rules to obey.

Handmaids are fertile women whose single purpose is to be used by the Commanders, men who are part of the elite, to breed, since their own Wives can’t conceive. The Handmaids have had children, but they were not married, remarried after getting a divorce, or married someone who had been married before. As every second marriage was deemed illegal, their children were taken away from them. They are prepared for the role of Handmaids by the Aunts. If any baby is born, the mother will be the Commander’s Wife, however. Continue reading