Three Favourites Minus Books

Books are the protagonists of this blog. I only tend to mention other favourites on my quarterly (and previously monthly) favourites. As those posts are restricted to a specific time period, today I decided to share with you my three general and all-time favourites from seven categories that aren’t in the realm of books, though most are still connected with the arts.

I wondered whether I should turn this post into a tag. As I don’t know if someone has already had a similar idea and also don’t want to tag bloggers who are not interested in sharing their favourites, I decided not to. However, please feel free to write a similar post if you want to.

 

Three Favourite Music Artists

  1. Arctic Monkeys
  2. Muse
  3. Royal Blood

Continue reading

Quarterly Favourites – July to September 2021

During the last three months, I’ve only finished reading four books. It’s the consequence of having spent an entire month reading Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb and not of having watched many films or TV series. With just a few books read, little fiction watched and almost no new music listened to, it wasn’t difficult to pick up just a couple of favourites.

The best book I read during the last three months was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Set in the 16th century, it’s a poignant, touching and believable fictional story about the death of the son of a famous playwright, William Shakespeare, who is never mentioned by his name. O’Farrell masterfully explores the themes of grief, parenthood, family life and love. The emotions of the characters are palpable and intense, particularly those of Agnes. Despite actions being described in utmost detail, the novel never gets boring, partly because the musicality of the prose is astounding.

Last month, I watched for the first time a TV series (mostly) in Icelandic, and I was pleasantly surprised. Katla, which you can watch on Netflix, is a mystery-drama about the appearance of people covered in ash in the town of Vík a year after the eruption of the subglacial volcano Katla. The inhabitants and visitors of the almost empty town are forced to come to terms with their past. Continue reading

Watched the Adaptations, Don’t Want to Read the Books

More often than not, the posts I write are either about the books that I read or the ones that I want to read at some point in time. Not today! I frequently watch adaptations before reading the books, having discovered truly great novels this way. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Atonement by Ian McEwan are just two examples. Not all adaptations leave me eager to read the books they are based on, however. There are at least eight adaptations whose source material I don’t intend to read.

 

Outlander

I loved the first season of Outlander, but my enjoyment of this TV series, which mixes historical fiction and sci-fi, has been decreasing with each following season, reason why I’m not interested in reading the book series by Diana Gabaldon. Caitríona Balfe plays Claire Randall, a Second World War military nurse who unwillingly travels back in time to 1743 while in Scotland. She ends up meeting and falling in love with a Highland warrior, Jamie Fraser, who is played by Sam Heughan.

 

Poldark

A British TV series based on the novels by Winston Graham, Poldark tells the story of the return of the title character to Cornwall after the American War of Independence in 1783. Although I was enjoying following the life of Ross Poldark, played by Aidan Turner, I have never finished watching the TV series and don’t remember how many seasons I did watch. I still want to one day watch the entire series, but I have no interest in picking up the twelve books. There are just too many of them. Continue reading

Quarterly Favourites – April to June 2021

Three months have passed since I last wrote about my favourites from what essentially are the things that I enjoy doing in my spare time. Nevertheless, I didn’t struggle too much to select just a few of them. I could have mentioned one or two more books, as I enjoyed almost all of the ones that I read from April to June, but I slightly cherished one of them more than the others.

Set in Northern Iceland in 1829, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is touching and poignant. Its ambience undoubtfully suits the story. Agnes, who is believably portrayed as someone who is misunderstood, was sentenced to death after being accused of killing two men, Nathan, who was her lover, and Pétur. She has to wait for the date of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district. There she receives the visit of Assistant Reverend Thorvardur.

The TV series that I enjoyed the most during the second quarter of the year was, without a doubt, Mare of Easttown. This crime drama shines mostly thanks to the personal tribulations of the main character and her family. Kate Winslet does a fantastic job playing Mare, a detective that is investigating the murder of a young woman. 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

Other Favourite Stories of 2020

I feel that in 2020 I spent more time watching TV series and films than reading books thanks to the pandemic. That doesn’t mean that I have a higher number of other favourite stories (those that I watched on a screen) to share with you than in previous years, though. The majority of the films that I watched were not particularly remarkable and many ended up just being background noise while I absentmindedly scrolled through social media feeds. There are four TV series, however, that I’ve highly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend.

 

Dark – Season 3

For sure one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched on Netflix, Dark is a German science fiction thriller about time travel and various families dealing with loss, grief and love. It can be quite complex, so viewers have to pay careful attention, which it’s not much to ask, seeing that the series is engaging and compelling. In season 3, all strands are convincingly linked together in a way that I didn’t see coming. I’ll definitely re-watch the entire series sometime in the future.

 

Dracula

A new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula was the first TV series I watched in 2020 on Netflix (it was originally created for the BBC, though). Claes Bang is flawless as Count Dracula. The first and second episodes are exquisite, terrifying and compelling. The third episode feels very different from the others, primarily because it’s set in modern-day England, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I liked how the creators of the show tried to present a reason for Dracula being afraid of certain objects. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – November 2020

As it has been mostly the case this year, this instalment of my monthly favourites is very brief. I finished three books in November and, surprisingly, DNFed another (after liking all the books that I had read by John Burnside, I wasn’t expecting to give up on Ashland & Vine). However, I only truly liked one of them, the others were just satisfactory at best. I also started watching a couple of TV series, but only completed one of them.

My favourite book from the ones that I read last month is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. To be honest, I read the majority of this epistolary novel during October but only finished it at the beginning of November. Gilbert Markham writes a letter to a friend telling him the story of how he met a young widowed woman, Mrs Helen Graham, how he became in love with her, and how she let him know about the mistreatment she suffered from her husband. Although it doesn’t have a perfect pacing, this novel by the youngest of the Brontë sisters features various fleshed out characters. As we learn more about Helen Graham’s past, her initial behaviour becomes understandable.

I’m sure that you have all already heard of (or watched) The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, but I have to join in the praise. It is an adaptation of the book with the same title by Walter Tevis, which I haven’t read, that focuses on the life of Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy who struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. I’d never thought that a TV series about chess could be so compelling, only one of the episodes is a bit boring. I have no idea how to play chess and was gripped nevertheless. The performances are terrific, and whoever chose the main character’s wardrobe deserves an award! Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – October 2020

Favourites were scarce in October, which is unsurprising this year. I have watched a couple of TV series, but they didn’t blow me away, and the new adaptation of Rebecca was extremely infuriating. This post is about my favourites, though. This edition features a book, a documentary and a blog post.

Although I only finished two books last month, one of them was amazing. It was a pleasure to rediscover Atonement by Ian McEwan more than a decade after first reading it in translation. When Briony saw her sister Cecilia and Robbie near the fountain at their house’s garden, her imagination was propelled. Her misunderstanding of their relationship had devastating consequences. This is a highly compelling novel. The structure perfectly fits the plot and a great variety of emotions are outstandingly conveyed.

As someone who often uses social media, I am interested in how it affects society. The Social Dilemma, a documentary with drama elements available on Netflix, explores how social media platforms are deliberately causing users to become addicted, in order to increase revenue from ads, how they have serious effects on mental health, and how they are increasing polarisation in politics, creating an “us vs them” mentality. The interviews with people from within the industry are enlightening, and the fictional story presented verges on the horror. Continue reading

TV Adaptations I Watched Before Reading the Books

I don’t always attempt to read the books before watching their adaptations. That is true for films and TV series alike. TV adaptations have, in fact, introduced me not only to books that I loved and cherished, but also to ones that I hope to enjoy in the future. Occasionally, I watch adaptations that don’t arouse my interest in reading the books for a variety of reasons (Outlander, Poldark and Normal People are some examples). This post is, however, about the TV adaptations of books that I’ve now already read or that I still want to read!

 

The Luminaries

I’ve watched The Luminaries this summer. Although I didn’t love it, since it has too few episodes to become familiar with the characters, it left me eager to read the book by Eleanor Catton, which I’m hoping to enjoy much more. It is set in New Zealand in the 19th century and focuses on Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines.

 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Before reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, I watched the BBC adaptation in 2015. A year later, I decided to pick up the book, since the story had fascinated me. Set in the 19th century, it’s an alternate history and fantasy novel about the restoration of English magic. Two practical magicians, who have very distinctive personalities, are commissioned to help win the war against Napoleon. Continue reading

Monthly Favourites – August 2020

Another month has come to an end (since April it seems that time is flying by exceedingly fast). So, today I’m sharing with you my favourites from August! They include a book, a TV show, a music album and a blog post.

After a long while, I finally rated a book with five stars again. The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a disconcerting, affecting and extraordinary exploration of abuse, mental health issues, rebellion against social conventions and desire. Yeong-hye had always been a dutiful wife until the day that she decided to become a vegetarian after having a disturbing dream. We never read her version of events, though. The story is told from three other perspectives – her husband, her brother-in-law and her sister. It is through their angles that we become aware of what she had to endure throughout her life and what influenced her actions.

On a much lighter note, I enjoyed watching the TV series The Great on HBO Portugal (I don’t know where you can watch it in other countries). Staring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, it’s a gripping comedy-drama based on the rise of Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. Don’t expect it to be historically accurate! From the very beginning, it lets viewers know that that is not the aim at all. In fact, it’s occasionally obviously outlandish. Continue reading