Love a Book, Judge the Next

Loving the first book that we read by an author is a fabulous experience, regardless if they are at the beginning of their writing career or if they already have various books published. The downside is that it can make us be much harsher when reading a second book by them. I think this happened to me a few times. I loved the first books that I read by certain authors so much that I ended up being much severe when judging my following reads by them.

 

Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

The first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier was the magnificent Rebecca, an enthralling, enigmatic and atmospheric novel, which is full of fleshed out characters. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moved with him to his family home, Manderley. She already felt inferior to his first wife, Rebecca, before, but living there only increased her insecurities and her sense of inaptitude.

After loving Rebecca, I was eager to continue exploring Du Maurier’s work. I soon picked up My Cousin Rachel. Philip, the narrator of the story, was raised by his older cousin Ambrose, who married Rachel while in Italy. Not long after his marriage, he died. Although Philip harboured suspicions about the role of his cousin Rachel in Ambrose’s death, he ended up falling in love with her. There’s a mysterious ambience throughout, as readers are skilfully led to have conflicting feelings about the characters. I was not fully convinced by how Philip fell so head over heels with Rachel, though. Despite being certain that I didn’t like it nowhere near as much as Rebecca, I feel like I was a bit too harsh on my review. Continue reading

Favourite Books of the Last Five Years

Before I created this blog, almost three years ago, I started rating the books that I read on a spreadsheet in 2014. I’m not sure why I decided to do it, but it was also around that time that I started watching videos about books on YouTube. Today I want to share with you my favourite books since then, which means of the last five years.

I haven’t selected a book per year. The books below are, instead, my favourites from the whole period in no particular order.

 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne and invites Lord Eddard Stark to be his Hand. But the fragile peace is in peril. Not only are the Lords of Westeros playing dangerous power games, but the exiled Targaryens also want to retake their father’s throne. The first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series is written from various points of view and is full of political machinations. The plot is enthralling and the characters are complex and multifaceted. Continue reading

Reactions to 1-Star Reviews of Books I Love

A few months ago, I watched a video on the YouTube channel Mercys Bookish Musings in which Mercedes read 1-star reviews of books that she loves. I found the idea so interesting that I decided to also have a look for negative reviews of some of my favourite books on Goodreads and write my reactions to a number of them.

I chose five books from different genres and selected a review for each one of them that pinpoints the reasons why the person basically hated it. I’ll now quickly explain why I respectfully disagree with such opinions. It’s normal to have dissimilar views on books, so it’s not my purpose to be offensive towards other readers.

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca was the first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier and remains my favourite after having read other three (Jamaica Inn, The King’s General and My Cousin Rachel). I was aware that not everyone is a fan of this novel, but I didn’t think I was going to find so strong negative views, such as the one below. 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

Unexpected Surprising Books

Occasionally, when we start reading a book, we’re already expecting to be surprised by some event, outcome or revelation. We may not know what that surprise will be, but we know it’s coming, possibly because there may be some mystery awaiting to be solved. The books mentioned below have the particularity of featuring surprises that I was not expecting at all for various reasons. I could have chosen a few more, but these were the first that sprang to mind.

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The first reason why I was surprised by Jessie Burton’s debut novel was that I knew close to nothing about the plot before buying it. I just had fell in love with the cover. However, after reading the first chapters, the main mystery seemed to be the identity of the miniaturist who sends Nella small replicas of people and objects from her daily life that she didn’t order. So, it was with great astonishment that I realised that many other and more interesting surprises had been awaiting me.

 

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Through a non-linear narrative, A God in Ruins introduces the reader to the life of Teddy Todd. Despite desiring to be a poet when he was younger, he ends up becoming a bomber pilot during the Second World War. I got immersed in his life and became quite interested in his relationship with his family. The revelation near the end of the book saddened me and took me completely by surprise. Continue reading

Favourite Books Written by Women

Ahead of International Women’s Day, on 8th March, I put together a list of my favourite books written by women. Although I believe that unintentionally I still read more books by men than by women, it wasn’t difficult at all to come up with these five magnificent books by female authors. In fact, I could have mentioned many more books than the ones below, but I wanted to keep the list short.

In no special order, these are some of the books written by women which were a delight to read:

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

One of the most captivating books I’ve ever read, Rebecca was my first foray into Daphne du Maurier’s work. It is narrated by an unnamed woman who recalls meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. She accepted to marry him, and they went to live at Manderley, his family home. There, the shadow of his deceased first wife, Rebecca, was even more present. Apparently, she had exceled at everything, so the narrator’s doubts and insecurities became overwhelming. The characters are complex, and the prose is utterly atmospheric. Continue reading

Favourite Protagonists

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been revealing some of my favourite characters in books (characters I love to hate, favourite female characters and favourite supporting characters). Today I introduce you to some of my favourite protagonists. These are leading characters who stood out for me among the various I discovered throughout the years and that I keep remembering for several reasons. The books they feature in are not necessarily my favourite books of all time (although some of them may be), as when I like almost all of the characters, it’s difficult for one of them to stand out from the rest.

 

Mrs de Winter – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

The unnamed narrator of the first book I read by Daphne du Maurier is quite an insecure young woman at the beginning, but that didn’t stop me from really liking her as a protagonist. The main reason why is her feelings being quite relatable, taking into consideration the situation she was facing. By the end of the novel I felt like I really knew her and missed hearing about her feelings and worries. Continue reading

Characters Who Could Be Protagonists in New Books

After choosing some of my favourite supporting characters, I started to think about how some of them could be protagonists in new books. Sometimes you just have that desire to know more about a specific character even if the book isn’t focusing on her or his story. Some of the characters I am about to mention may not be my favourites, but I think they have potential to take centre stage in a new or parallel story.

 

Johannes Brandt – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist was my favourite book among the ones I read last year, I wouldn’t particularly change anything about it. But I would definitely read a different book just about Johannes Brandt. He is a complex character, dealing with a difficult situation. Knowing more about him in The Miniaturist wouldn’t have worked, as the mystery surrounding him is an essential part of the book at first and the story is told from Petronella’s point of view.

 

Henry Tilney – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The idea for this post arose from Henry Tilney being one of my favourite supporting characters. In fact, he is my favourite character in Northanger Abbey thanks to his sarcastic remarks. I would love to know what he was up to before meeting Catherine Morland, the heroine of the novel. Continue reading

Characters I Love to Hate

Not all characters in books are supposed to have our approbation and that is a good thing. A book in which all characters make understandable decisions and behave almost like perfect human beings becomes really dull after a while. I love when books feature characters who are unlikeable, but who are also complex, fleshed out and well written. They are not merely evil or plain villains, there is more to them than their despicable actions. They bring complexity to the plot of a book.

These are some of the characters I love to hate:

 

Cersei Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

There are quite a few unlikeable characters in the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. But the one I love to hate the most is Cersei. Although the utmost evil and twisted characters are probably Joffrey and Ramsay, Cersei is the one I would miss the most if she didn’t exist. She is eager for power, using any means possible to achieve what she wants. However, she is not as cunning as she believes herself to be, not considering the consequences of her actions. One redeeming quality could be her love for her children, except I believe that such love comes second after her ambitions. Continue reading

Favourite Female Characters

Tomorrow, the 8th of March, we celebrate the International Women’s Day, not only to honour the women who fought for equal rights and celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements, but also to highlight the importance of continuing the path to gender parity. Unfortunately, I haven’t read enough books about female rights to give book recommendations focusing on the topic. So, instead I decided to choose my favourite female characters.

The characters I’ve selected as my favourites are not necessarily women that fought for equality of the sexes or that advocated for any kind of change. They are solely characters that stood out to me for their characteristics or actions throughout the books they are part of.

In no special order, these are some of my favourite female characters: Continue reading