Favourite Books Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m sharing with you my favourite books from the ones that I read and were shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction since the beginning of the award. Its aim is to “change the world through books by women”. A lot of change is needed indeed as, for example, young women and girls are being poisoned in Iranian schools, rape is being used as a weapon of war in Ukraine, the practice of female genital mutilation continues, and the majority of poor people in the world are women.

Although the longlist for this year’s edition was announced yesterday, I’m focusing on previous shortlists instead, because I don’t tend to read many brand-new releases and, thus, don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the books featured in it.


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

In 2020, Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnet did not only made it to the shortlist, but also won the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Set in the 16th century, it delves into grief, parenthood and love through a fictional story about the death of the son of William Shakespeare, whose name is never mentioned. Despite this being the tale of a family, the focus is mainly on Agnes, his wife. The emotions conveyed feel incredibly real, which makes the book touching and affecting. Plus, the musicality of the prose and the detail with which the actions of the characters are described make for an enthralling reading experience. 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

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

Should We Judge Books by Their Marketing Campaigns?

Marketing teams play a crucial role when the time comes to promote a book. It would be very difficult for authors, particularly lesser known ones, to advertise their books without their help. They outline a plan to get books on the radar of potential readers using various platforms. But can their efforts occasionally be counterproductive? What if the marketing campaign for a book creates unfair expectations?

Publishers tend to emphasise the characteristics of a book that they believe will lead to sell the greatest number of copies possible. In order to entice readers, marketeers may try to highlight elements of a book that are not necessarily the main focus of the story or slightly tweak the premise of the book to fit in with current trends. This is occasionally obvious from press releases, the digital marketing strategy, and the blurbs of the books.

When The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker was initially released, the marketing campaign seemed to focus on how it was a feminist Ancient Greek myth retelling. It was supposed to give a voice to the women involved in the Trojan War. At the time, many readers were disappointed to discover that the book not only focuses on Briseis point of view, but it also presents the perspectives of Achilles and Patroclus. Pat Barker’s purpose was, in my opinion, to establish a contrast between how the men and the enslaved women were allowed to grieve. Unsurprisingly, women had to do so inconspicuously, hence the title of the novel. Continue reading

Favourite Protagonists II

While some books shine thanks to their gripping plots, others enchant readers because of their convincing and memorable characters. They don’t need to have faultless personalities, but their traits and behaviours have to be plausible and feel genuine. A great, complex protagonist is always a plus in any novel. Since I wrote my first post about my favourite protagonists, almost four years ago, I’ve discovered other believable main characters that I soon won’t forget.


Mary Yellan – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier created magnificent characters. The protagonist of Jamaica Inn, Mary Yellan, is just one of many. She is spirited, determined and curious. Although she is undoubtfully brave, in certain occasions she (understandably) succumbs to fear. It’s striking how she frequently muses on her behaviour towards other characters, particularly her aunt. Despite being well-intentioned, Mary is sometimes too severe with her.


Circe – Circe by Madeline Miller

Bullied and tormented by her siblings, Circe felt like an outcast since a young age. Madeline Miller clearly shows how the life experiences of the protagonist of this Ancient Greek myth retelling shaped her personality. After using her witchcraft powers, Circe is banished to a deserted island, becoming much more independent and less fearful. Her emotions are believable and palpable throughout. Continue reading

Favourite Book Covers VI

It has been almost two years since I last shared with you a few of my favourite book covers. Since then I added to my shelves various books that were not only worthy reads, but whose covers are also a feast for the eyes. All of them are paperback editions, which is unsurprising. I mostly only buy paperbacks, as they are cheaper, lighter, and I have a complicated relationship with dust jackets.

Let’s get a good look at my five new favourite covers!


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Cover design: Leanne Shapton

Publisher: Vintage

Collection: Vintage Classics Austen Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2020

In theory, the fiasco that was 2020 afforded us far more free time for reading. Nevertheless, I managed to read not only fewer books, but also fewer pages than in the previous year. The only reason for that is that I found it difficult to focus on whichever book I was reading for long periods of time, having had to shorten each reading session significantly. On the bright side, I enjoyed the vast majority of the books that I have read.

So far, I have read 29 books in their entirety and will certainly finish the one I’m currently reading before the end of the year. Almost all of the books that I decided to pick up were novels and novellas, but I also read a couple of short story and poetry collections (I didn’t review all of them, though). My reading was also varied in terms of genres: literary fiction, classics, fantasy, myth retellings, historical fiction… Two of the books that I read were not new to me. After reading their translations into Portuguese years ago, I decided to finally read Atonement by Ian McEwan and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen in the original. I loved them as much as I did the first time.

However, only taking into consideration the books that I’ve read for the first time in 2020, irrespective of date of publication, my favourites, in reverse order, are: Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – July 2020

August is already underway, but I still have to share with you my favourites from last month. I haven’t forgotten! They include a book, a film, a blog post and a music album.

My favourite book from the four that I finished in July is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It is an engrossing retelling of the Iliad that, despite being told mainly from the point of view of Briseis, who became a bed-slave during the Trojan war, also presents the perspectives of Achilles and Patroclus at some occasions. As the story is told from different viewpoints, it successfully sets a contrast between how women who became slaves had to grieve quietly, while men were free to do so openly. It features believable, intricate characters and evocative descriptions.

Throughout last month, I mainly watched TV series, but none blew me away. I enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2, the only film that I watched, far more. Taking place a few years after the first film, this computer-animated fantasy film is both sad and comforting. Vikings and dragons live in harmony until their lives are disturbed by Drago. I also cherished learning more about Hiccup’s family. Continue reading

‘The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker

My rating: 4 stars

An engrossing retelling of Homer’s Iliad, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker explores how the women who became slaves during the Trojan War struggled to overcome their grief inconspicuously, while men had the freedom to display it openly and seek revenge. This contrast is achieved by offering readers different perspectives. The majority of the story is narrated in the first person by Briseis, but we are also presented the points of view of Achilles and Patroclus in the third person. Most important of all, the characters are believably intricate.

Briseis intersperses the recount of the attack on Lyrnessus by Achilles with memories from her past. She married very young and didn’t feel any support from her mother-in-law, Queen Maire. During the war, which started nine years previously, she saw her husband and her brothers be killed by Achilles. Afterwards, Greek soldiers looted the buildings and raped the women, starting with the slaves on the basement and ending with the noblewomen on the roof. They were then taken to the Greek encampment, where Briseis was chosen as Achilles’s bed-slave.

Sometime later, a plague took over the camp and caused the death of many soldiers. They believed that this was a punishment by Apollo, since Agamemnon, who had taken Chryseis as his bed-slave, refused to accept the offer from her father, a priest, to pay for her freedom. The following developments and the fact that bed-slaves were perceived as possessions led to a feud between Achilles and Agamemnon, involving Briseis. Continue reading