Favourite Books I Read in 2019

2019 was a complicated reading year. I read various praiseworthy novels, short story and poetry collections. In terms of genres, my reading was as varied, featuring classics, literary fiction, fantasy and myth retellings, for example. So far, I’ve read 34 books and will probably finish another one in the following days. However, I decided not to finish eight books, a number higher than ever before, if I’m not mistaken.

This was also the year when I chose to reread a book again after probably decades without doing so. Thus, I had to decide whether to include rereads in my favourite books of the year or not from now on. I decided against it. This post only includes books that I read for the first time during the year, irrespective of date of publication.

I don’t tend to rate books with five stars very often, because they need to be completely flawless for that to happen. This year I only rated one book with five stars, and it was the one that I reread – O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago. The majority of the books that I rate with four stars are still great, though. Some of the five books that I selected as my favourites of 2019 are indeed almost perfect, in my opinion. In reverse order, they are: 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

Monthly Favourites – May 2019

Another month, another instalment of my monthly favourites! Today, you can expect a long exposition about my favourite TV show. But, fear not, before that I’ll reveal my favourite book and songs from May. I don’t want to bore you to death if you’re not even remotely interested in the show in question.

May was a complex reading month. I read the final pages of a book that I didn’t like and read in their entirety another three. Regarding the latter, I had conflicting feelings about A Cidade de Ulisses (City of Ulysses) by Teolinda Gersão and liked both The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante and The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier. After some contemplation, I think my favourite was The Story of a New Name. It is the second book in the Neapolitan novels and continues to follow the lives of the friends Elena and Lila. I wholeheartedly recommend this compelling story about female friendship, which is full of conflicting emotions. It also features reflections on class, equality and social mobility.

Music-wise, I loved two new songs by The Black Keys, ‘Eagle Birds’ and ‘Lo/Hi’. Rock songs that we can dance to are some of my favourites, and these are just great for that. I’m really excited to listen to the new album in full. Continue reading

‘História do Novo Nome’ (‘The Story of a New Name’) by Elena Ferrante

My rating: 4 stars

Elena Ferrante’s ability to write a compelling story about female friendship is impressive. In História do Novo Nome (The Story of a New Name in the English translation), words flow so effortlessly that even the most common events in the characters’ lives are gripping. As in the first and previous instalment of the Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friend, which I’ll be spoiling, there are various reflections on class, equality and how even through education it’s difficult to achieve social mobility.

The narrator and main character, Elena, recalls that in the spring of 1966 her friend Lila asked her to keep a box containing eight notebooks, making her promise never to read them. She was afraid her husband would discover them. Elena read them, though. What she learnt is used to give more information about the events she didn’t witness and to summarise what happened to Lila in the first book – the story she wrote as a child; how she wasn’t allowed to continue studying after primary school; her father not liking the designs of her shoes; and her displeasure when Marcello Solara arrived at her wedding party wearing the shoes that she had designed and that her husband, Stefano Carracci, had bought.

The relationship between Elena and Lila was not the best at the time. The following November, Elena threw the box into a river. Her curiosity was making Lila’s life invading hers, and she couldn’t deal with that anymore. She then starts recalling what she experienced immediately after her friend’s wedding. She felt that she should live her life in the same way as Lila – to accept life in the neighbourhood, marry Antonio, abandon school and stop trying to achieve a better life. The following weeks she wandered around Naples instead of attending classes but told no one. Continue reading

Book Haul – April 2019

I hadn’t planned to buy any books this month, but the desire to take part in the Daphne du Maurier reading week in May had me looking for new ones to add to my already overflowing small shelves. Could have I just bought one book? Yes! Did I? Of course not! This is a somewhat diverse haul, featuring a couple of different genres – classics, fantasy and literary fiction.

 

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier is one of the authors that I want to read at least one book by every year. I read Jamaica Inn in January and wasn’t planning to read any other of her books in the following months. But then I discovered that Ali is dedicating a week (13 to 19 May) to du Maurier and decided to join in. For that purpose, I chose The House on the Strand. The main character, Dick Young, drinks a potion provided to him by a chemical researcher that allows him to time travel. He ends up in fourteenth-century Cornwall where he witnesses murder and adultery.

 

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

In the latest years, I’ve been reading the fantasy book series The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. In the Labyrinth of Drakes is the fourth instalment and reveals how Lady Trent gained her position in the Scirling Royal Army. All the other books were a mix of adventure with feminism and anthropological elements. I expect the same from this one. Continue reading