Sparrow: The story of a songbird, by Giovanni Verga


Sparrow the story of a songbird giovanni vergaMaria’s mother passed away when she was seven and her father sent her to a convent to receive an education and become a nun. Now she is almost twenty years old and is spending some time with her father, stepmother and siblings in the country, staying away from a cholera epidemic in the city. There, Maria experiences the freedom of being outdoors, enjoying the sun, the flowers and the fresh air, as well as the joys of the family life that have always been neglected to her. And yes, in those days she also finds love, a new feeling that some days brings her sadness, and others fills her heart so deeply she can hardly believe it’s real.

However, all good things come to an end and, when it is safe to return to the city, Maria has to return to the convent. But once you have tasted a glimpse of happiness, how can you come back to a cage, knowing that you will never be allowed to fly free again? Trying to fight against her own feelings, this young nun writes to a confident who lived in the convent with her in the past, and her missives are so profound and heartbreaking that have brought tears to my eyes.

My copy of the book - a brand new Spanish edition

My copy of the book – a brand new Spanish edition

Beautifully written, this short novel is a journey in a roller coaster of emotions, from the little joys of life, which this young protagonist has never known before, to the despair of being locked against her will, letting go of the love she found and the future she, for a moment, dared to dream. The book is also a criticism of the religious standards of the time: Maria asks her correspondent why God creates all the beautiful things only to deprive His wives of them.

I’m not afraid to compare this Italian classic with my beloved Stefan Zweig, for these two authors can create female characters who are hard to believe they are not real. I felt really moved by Maria and the dichotomy she faced – whether to experience love for a brief moment and then be aware of its absence for the rest of your life, or to live oblivious to what could have been; empty, but perhaps happier. Who can answer to this?

rakin5Sparrow: the story of a songbird
Giovanni Verga
Published first time in 1870
180 pages.


Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith


This is one of those books I wouldn’t have read if someone doesn’t insist on my reading them – my boyfriend, in this case, who had just finished it and said very seriously that I had to read it as well.child 44 tom rob smith

Leo Stepánovich is a young man who works for the Soviet Union security service, a job he likes because it allows him to have special benefits for he and his family when it comes to the apartments they live in or the food they can afford, and also makes him help to keep the country clean of those who want to destroy the freedom and equality only communism can bring to people… But this wonderful life Leo has ends when he is asked to spy his own wife and report to his superiors if she is actually a traitor.

At the same time, Leo has detected a series of crimes – some children have been murdered near the railroads, and he needs to find the killer, even when “crime is a capitalism illness” and he can barely ask for help, because just by saying that there have been murders he can be considered a political traitor himself.

I borrowed my copy from the library

I borrowed my copy from the library

Crimes and communism in the USSR are nor really my favourite topics for a novel, but I have been hooked on this book, so if you think this is not for you either, just get out of your comfort zone and try Smith’s Child 44.

The end is wonderfully solved, connecting the two lines of the novel – Leo’s personal and professional lives – but the real issue is the political background, which is as dangerous for an agent in the security service as for anyone else, because anybody can just report his neighbor and the guy will be in a torture chamber by the end of the day. Everyone is guilty, they seemed to claim.

So, would you report your own partner just to save yourself?

rakin4There is a film based on this book, but this is one of those times in which the film is not worth your time because the book is far more superior. Besides, they have changed the connection between Leo and the murderer, and in the film it doesn’t make any sense.

Summarizing: read the book!

Duet for three hands, by Tess Thompson


Duet for three hands Tess ThompsonIt’s late 1920s when Nathaniel, a virtuoso pianist with limited social skills, is delighting his audience, not knowing that some hours later his life would change drastically: in the after-party he would meet his future wife, Frances Bellmont, and his career as one of the best piano concertists would fade away.

The other part of the story is set at the Bellmonts’. Whitmore Bellmont, Frances’ little brother, is a talented boy on the art of drawing who is in love with the maid’s daughter, Jesselle, a black young girl who has been taught by Mrs. Clare Bellmont all the school subjects she couldn’t have learned otherwise because of the color of her skin. The relationship between Whitmore and Jesselle must be kept secret, as well as the lessons Mrs. Bellmont schedule every day for Jesselle, because the society of their time would raise Cain if they knew.

Finally, there is a young widow called Lydia, who eventually would know the rest of the characters, when she decides to leave the farm she has always lived in, in order to master the piano.

Tess Thompson, one of my favourite romance authors, has surprised us, her fans, by writing a historical fiction novel this time based on the life of her great-grandmother, which has been a pleasure to read.

From several points of view, the story shows a portrait of that time, regarding human rights, education, arts, and the beginning of the movie industry, with a wealthy southern family in the center. Every one of the characters has a unique voice and, even when each one has their own conflicts to solve, all of them converge throughout the narration, interconnected in the overall story.

However, my favourite has been Nathaniel; I felt really sorry for him when he had to stop playing music and give up his fascinating career as a concertist only to be stuck in a marriage where love was absent. I also enjoyed Jesselle’s story; a girl divided between two worlds, fighting for growing up and make her dreams come true, with her only two weapons against the world: her love for Whitmore and her will to learn.

With the issues it addresses and the charming characters the novel has, I think most readers will be captivated by Duet for three hands as much as I was.

rakin4Duet for Three Hands, by Tess Thopmson
Published by Booktrope, 384 pages

Book on
Book on Goodreads
Tess Thompson’s web

Everything you dreamed Cary Elwes would whisper to you: “As you wish”



As you wish cary elwesImagine you love a film for its charming characters, its witty humor, the adventures, and the inconceivable turns of a plot that every single time makes you hold your breath, mourn or laugh in complete delight. Of course, there is only one film that fits that description, and we all know it’s The princess bride. Cary Elwes, the actor who plays Westley, has made our dreams come true thanks to this book.

A couple of years ago there was an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, and Elwes came up with the idea of narrating his experience during the making of The princess bride, answering all the questions he has been asked during his acting career, which he thinks will be most remembered for the role of Westley.

Sometimes I hear people say that they don’t have a favourite book, or that they can’t decide which one their favourite is, and I just think they still haven’t read that book, because I sometimes pick up The princess bride just to read one or two pages at random, and that alone brightens my day – this is what a favourite means, and every reader needs to find their own.

As you wish Cary Elwes1

As for a film, I think it’s the same. If you happen to know every line of The princess bride by heart, you will enjoy As you wish from cover to cover. Elwes starts at the beginning, as it should be, when he was casted in Germany for the role, and continues with anecdotes of all the cast members during the shooting, including comments about that time from the other actors and several behind-the-scenes memories of friendships that still last nowadays. They made a special piece of art which has never stopped gaining fans over the years, and this is Elwes’ homage to all of us, the people who have enjoyed watching it over and over.

I think it’s indispensable to read As you wish if you are a fan of the film; in fact, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t know every sequence in the film will like this book.

So grab your copy and place yourself again in the Fire Swamp fighting against Rodents of Unusual Size and saving Buttercup from the fire, training for the Greatest Sword Fight in Modern Times, which didn’t need stunt doubles, or burst out laughing with Miracle Max and Valerie, who improvised most of their lines! You’ll have the greatest of times, I promise.


As you wish, by Cary Elwes
Hardcover, 260 pages

The Martian, by Andy Weir


If you ask me for the genres I don’t like, I would first mention horror, followed by science-fiction. But guys, that was before I read The Martian!

The Martian Andy WeirMark Watney is left alone in Mars during a sandstorm, when the crew had to evacuate and thought Watney was dead. But he is not. The astronaut has no way to contact Earth to tell them he is alive, and the next mission to land on Mars is scheduled in 4 years, so this man has a problem. The fact that the food he has would feed him only for less than a year before starving to death doesn’t help either. But Watney is a resourceful guy and soon he comes up with a plan: plant potatoes on Mars!

The adventures of Watney on Mars will keep you glued to the book. The story is told through daily entries he keeps in case he finds a solution to send them, but soon we start knowing what’s going on on Earth and also with Watney’s crew on their way home. This astronaut is a genius for the way we works on staying alive and getting a way to communicate with NASA, and he is also very joyful despite the situation he is in, so the book is going to lift your spirits. It talks a lot about science, though, but I think it is explained very well even for non-science people so that anyone can follow Watney’s operations.

The martian quote

Watney’s wisdom

I listened to the audiobook, being this the first fiction novel I haven’t read in Spanish before that I have listened to, and I think the narrator totally becomes Mark Watney. It’s like he is real and tells you what he is doing. I was so engrossed in the novel that, near the end, I had to stop, take a few minutes to think about the possible outcomes of the story (because the reader doesn’t have the slightest idea about what is going to happen), sob a little in advance in case he didn’t get it, and then continue with the book.

I really recommend it.

rakin5I think that the film will be on theatres in October, and it looks really good, doesn’t it? Be careful if you still haven’t read it and you plan to, because the trailer reveals most of the story:

What I’m reading – mid-August


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I hate summers, but this one is being remarkable tough in so many ways. The main issue has been my father, who had a scheduled – but serious – heart surgery last Wednesday. My family and I have spent long hours there in hospital with him, and I don’t know what’s wrong about the place, but it leaves you exhausted. Luckily, he is the best of patients, and has been following all the prescriptions and doing all the exercises the nurses and doctors command, and he is at home now, with a long way ahead to make a full recovery, though.

reading mid augustI have begun a couple of books these days, which is not a reading habit that I have, but I suddenly found myself in the hospital, the day of my father’s surgery, with nothing to read and long hours ahead in the waiting room, so I started the last novel of Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Hombres Buenos, still not available in English), which my father had just finished the night before, already hospitalized. It starts well and it’s set in the nineteenth century, a time that I know quite well due to the Law text books that I have to study, and also thanks to some historical fiction novels that I have enjoyed in the past.

Besides, I started a book that I purchased at the beginning of the year: As you wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by the actor Cary Elwes, which is a delight. If you love The princess bride (the film and the book), not reading it would be inconceivable ;) My father is also a fan of the film, so these last days I’ve been telling him anecdotes that I’ve read on the book and we had had a lot of fun.

With all the drives up and down the hospital, I have been disconnected from the blogging world and I forgot that I had organized a joint reading with my Spanish fellows! You know that I run a reading challenge for people to read in English, and I organize activities from time to time. We are reading With every letter, by Sarah Sundin, and it is still free on Amazon, if you want to join us. We are commenting the book on twitter with the hastag #WithEveryLetter.

And that’s all for now. I took this afternoon off, and hopefully I will come back to my daily routines tomorrow.

Hope you have a nice week!

Handmade love letter-inspired bookmarks

Who is feeling crafty AND corny today? :mrgreen:

I spent the last couple of days searching snail mail accounts and pins on Pinterest and Instagram, and I got inspired, not to look for a penpal, but to make some bookmarks based on love letters ♥.

I don’t have any scrapbooking material, so I took a few things from here and there (it was on a Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t buy anything for my crafty inspiration) and this is the result:

love letter bookmarks 1


  • Cardboard
  • A paper bag, whose colour I liked because it looks old, but you can also use scrapbooking paper.
  • A cream-coloured piece of paper for the envelope and the love message.
  • Sealing wax and a seal; mine has the letter I on it.
  • Some ribbons, dry leaves, etc.
  • Scissors, glue, a pencil and a ruler.

love letter bookmarks 2

First, cut the cardboard in four pieces of 20×6 cm and glue them to one side of the bag. Then cut the leftovers.

For the envelope, I just took one I had at home and I used it as a template for the cream-coloured paper. This way you don’t have to waste several envelopes to make the bookmarks.

I wrote the sender and the message with one of my typewriters, but you can perfectly do it with a printer and the typography you like most. However, don’t forget to write everything before cutting the paper, because a tiny piece of paper is difficult to handle on a typewriter or on a printer.

I choose the quotes from Word Porn, which is a page I like a lot. You can also write a quote from any of your favourite books, or even create a poem by yourself!

Then I cut the pieces for the envelope and the message, and then I tore this last one, carefully, at the borders. You can try to burn it a little as well if you are not likely to burn your house, like I am. Then it’s time to glue the written parts on the cardboard.

love letter bookmarks 3

In order to “seal” the envelope, I watched this video and I did it in my bookmarks. Be careful and don’t put the wax seal too close to the flame, because it actually burns (I learned it the hard way, right?).

Then it’s time for the details: I glued two ribbons in one corner, but I didn’t have enough for all the bookmarks I was doing, so for the last one I glued a couple of dry rose petals. I think they look better, but you know that dry leaves are fragile and don’t last forever, so it’s up to you. You can also cut pieces of paper in a heart shape to decorate, or add some pretty stickers if you have at home.

I like to keep it simple, but there are no limits to your imagination ;)

Do you like the result? I hope so!

Thanks for reading!

love letter bookmarks 4

love letter bookmarks 5

My messy thoughts on “Go set a watchman”, by Harper Lee


By this time I assume everybody knows about the plot of Go set a watchman, so I am going to speak my mind on the entire book. Consider yourself warned in case you don’t want to read spoilers.

go set a watchman harper leeTo me, the book has two different parts: the one in which Jean Louise remembers her childhood in Maycomb, full of funny anecdotes, and the conflict in the present because her father and boyfriend seem to be in favor of segregation, taking into account that we are in the fifties and the bus boycott has just happened.

You can’t read Go set a watchman without keeping To kill a mockingbird in mind, so I have to say that the memories Jean Louise talks about are what all of us wanted to read. To my pleasure, they were not the same the author told in To kill a mockingbird, so if you enjoyed the latter, you now have a wider picture of the childhood of Jean Louise, and it is just as lovely as we knew in the previous book: she getting into trouble and being rescued by her brother, father, and a new character, Hank, who is now her boyfriend and Atticus’ associate. The trial of the black man charged with rape is slightly narrated, but it is not the same and it’s not an important part of the plot in this book.

The problem comes with Atticus. He is an old man now, but in Jean Louise’s memories he is just as we knew him in To kill a mockingbird. So the reader has to get over the idea that a man who time ago believed in equality now fights for segregation, based on the fact that black people were illiterate and couldn’t have an opinion based on true knowledge and, therefore, they are going to ruin the country. I mean, I know that people can change their opinion, but I only see it plausible if they change from being an asshole to being a nice guy, not the opposite, and I just think that this new Atticus is not a realistic character (you may disagree and debate mentioning nazism, for example, but I need to think people change only for the good). Wouldn’t be more normal that a man who believes in equality and has lived through this value for all his life now fights for the black people to have an education and be at last really equal to the white men and women? That’s what I expect for a man like the Atticus of Jean Louise’s childhood, in both books.

Hank is a completely different issue, though. He says he has to find his place in the village, since he comes from a poor family and, even when I don’t share his point of view, I can see it makes sense for a man to choose a party he thinks it will open doors to him.

My copy of the book

My copy of the book

This is not a second part of To kill a mockingbird; it was written to be an independent book, just from another point of view, and I really understand why it wasn’t published in the first place. Not only Atticus can’t be considered a plausible character for what the author wanted to talk about, but the conflict between him and Jean Louise is left for the very end of the book, which is too hasty, meanwhile the first half is quite slow.

Perhaps I’m under the influence of To kill a mockingbird, but I can’t say this is a good book. I’ll just keep Scout’s lovely anecdotes and go read another book. You should do the same.

rakin2Go set a watchman
Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper Collins
288 pages

The day I purchased a typewriter

Everything started with this Olivetti M40 of my grandfather

Everything started with this Olivetti M40 of my grandfather

It’s hard to believe, but that day was actually last Wednesday, instead of being several decades ago. I was dusting an old typewriter I have in my office, which belonged to my grandfather and now is a mere decoration item – that I love so much – and I told my father how I wish it could work again. My father looked at me with an offended expression on his face and replied that the machine worked perfectly well, except for the new ribbon and all the cleaning it needed. So I shyly asked for ribbons in the office supplies shop I always go, and they actually had them!

Later that morning, I just watched the Olivetti working and I knew I needed my own, so that very afternoon I purchased one in a secondhand goods shop for 20€ and I happily started to write letters to my grandmother and a couple of friends. It’s not an ancient machine – I think that it could have been made in the late seventies – but it’s enough for me to cannot put my hands away from it. I have called it “Sophie”, for the pleasure of having my own typewriter with its own name. How exciting is to hear it coming to life!

My beauty queen, Sophie. It's an Olivetti Studio 46

My beauty queen, Sophie.
It’s an Olivetti Studio 46

The owner of the shop told me that recently a woman has purchased three small typewriters there because her children liked to write short stories with them, even though they have a computer, of course. So I suppose those children will be the last in the world to say that they wrote on a typewriter when they were young, and that makes me feel nostalgic.

I’m still wondering what I will use it for. For a start, it is perfect for writing letters and I have already sent some written with it. I receive letters from time to time, and these last days I have realized how lucky I am to have friends that surprise you in Christmas or summer holidays with a letter or a postcard, taking into account that it’s more messy, slow and expensive than just sending a text message or an email, but the effect on the correspondent is far more memorable, isn’t it? I’m really grateful to have people who care of me and spend a little of their time to make me smile from time to time.

I would also love to have a little bit of imagination in order to become a writer thanks to my darling Sophie, just as those children who write their own stories with theirs. If it wasn’t so disgusting, I would lit up a cigarette and fill the room with smoke while writing my masterpiece, like the old geniuses of literature. But it will have to be for another time.

So tell me, do you have a crush at the sight of old items that seem useless today, or it’s only me?

Do you also feel sentimental at the sound of a typewriter?

Thanks for reading

Her sister’s shoes, by Ashley Farley


I received this book in order to participate in a book tour
organized by iRead Book Tours.

Her sister's shoes Ashley Farley

Her sister’s shoes is a family saga about three sisters whose lives are far from perfect. Jackie, the oldest, is a cold and selfish woman whose marriage is about to end abruptly, but she is only concerned about keeping up appearances. The second sister, Samantha, is struggling with her teenage son, Jamie, who had a terrible car accident some months ago and he is not only in a wheelchair, but with a terrible depression that Sam doesn’t know how to cope with. Finally Faith, the youngest sister, lives in fear of her husband, who is becoming abusive towards her and their little daughter.

Sam, Faith and their mother, Lovie, are just reopening a seafood market the family have owned for years, and it feels like it should be changing their lives for the better, but this doesn’t happen – the sisters will have to learn how to rely on each other in order to overcome their problems.

This is a charming story about love and trust in your family members, who are the ones who will always be there to support you. I liked the main characters, especially Samantha, who has to do all the hard work, putting the others together and making them open their eyes, but she is actually not as strong as she looks in the outside. The secondary characters are also lovely, and I really felt so sorry for Faith’s daughter, and also for Jamie, who manages to avoid focusing on his own suffering when he learns that his little cousin needs his help.

I have to say that the story was very predictable in the end, but I suppose this predictability comes with the genre itself, so I would have been really shocked if the end was different! In any case, I think happy endings are what you are looking for in these kinds of books, right?

And finally, I would like to comment briefly about the setting: the story takes place in a small town in the coast of South Carolina, being it so idyllic that you can’t believe people might not be absolutely happy in such a place. I also felt that the story needs a prequel to talk about how Lovie and her husband ended up there and made their living by fishing and selling the food in the street at the beginning, and then building their own market. I think it makes for a lovely story too.

To summarize, I think Her sister’s shoes will please women’s fiction readers who want a joyful and engaging summer read with lovable characters.


Her sister’s Shoes
Asley Farley
380 pages
Published by Leisure time books

Author’s website
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