Category: Lists


So You Want to Read… (Ian McEwan)

Posted 15 September, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 5 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! πŸ™‚

Another month, another edition of So You Want to Read…. For this month, I decided to feature Ian McEwan (see author tag), one of my favourite authors. There’s just something about his use of language, his prose, the stories he writes about that really draws you in and/or piques your interest. I wanted to read a considerable amount of his works before finally putting together a list, and I believe that now is the time to share my list of recommenations πŸ™‚

First time considering Ian McEwan’s writings? Here’s my list of books on where to start:

  • Atonement (review) — My first McEwan book and it remains one of my all-time favourite books. It introduced me to his wonderful writing; the best way I can describe it is that he’s just able to find the right word for every thought and feeling that flickers across these characters’ minds and experiences. It’s a devastating read to be sure, and it left me thinking about the characters and how one simple action unravelled lives and changed trajectories. Fun fact: this has to be one of the longest book reviews and book dissections I’ve ever written on this blog πŸ˜›
  • Amsterdam (review) — My second McEwan book, it remains quite high up there on my list of recommendations. Perhaps a bit more clinical in approach and structure, it nonetheless showcases all of McEwan’s power of prose and use of language, not to mention the complexity of the characters and the fragility of relationships.
  • The Children Act (review) — I’ve read a number of McEwan’s books since Amsterdam that, whilst interesting, failed to hit the same heights as the first two books I mentioned. With The Children Act, McEwan not only delivers his signature character drama amidst controversial/current issues but also grabbed the reader’s attention from the very start, slipping readers into his protagonist’s life and thoughts from the get-go. Following Fiona Maye for the first half of the novel and what she does in her job was just fascinating to read and I think she’s a character that first time readers will want to follow from start to finish of this book.
  • Bonus: On Chesil Beach (review) — Don’t be fooled by the slimness of this book: Ian McEwan manages to cram a lot of complexity into this short tale of newly-weds on their honeymoon in 1962. I initially didn’t include it on my list because it’s a really quiet drama and character study; you really need to sort of settle in and read this book carefully to really appreciate the nuances of what the author is trying to tell. It is by no means a quick read. But it’s worth the mention because it really showcases McEwan’s ability to really get into the thoughts of his characters, right down to every ugly thought that you’d hide from the world.



And that’s my list! If you’ve read Ian McEwan’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! πŸ™‚

Books: Summer Wrap-Up [2017 edition]

Posted 2 September, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

And here we are, at the end of another summer. I hope everyone had a lovely summer, whether you’ve been on holiday or just relaxing–I know mine has been a little nutty, to say the least! And as always, I like to feature some of my favourite books read between the first week of June until, well, today. I haven’t been reading as much compared to previous years (I was actually surprised by the number of books I read last month, it’s far less than my usual number) but nonetheless I had a few favourites (which, of course, many of these reviews won’t be up until the next few weeks). In no particular order:

  • Selected Poems by Miguel Hernandez — From the moment I read the first poem included in this collection, I knew I would love his poetry. I love the imagery he uses in his poems, the feelings he captures…Definitely a collection I will revisit again and again.
  • Love Sonnets and Elegies by Louise Labe — Another collection that grabbed me from the start. She really captures the feelings of love in such a way, in all of its forms…And this collection was bilingual, which was really cool too.
  • China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan — Oh man, this series has been such a riot to read so far. This book was even crazier to read than the first book, with all of the glitz and high-end products and rich people problems and the contrast between mainland rich people and those based in Singapore, not to mention throwing in some traditional Asian values about family and appearance. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
  • Another Viscount in Love by Vivienne Lorret — I love Vivenne Lorret’s books. Her Season’s Originals series had a slow start with the first volume but it really picked up as the series progressed and I was quite happy to see she released a novella to wrap up the series featuring one recurring character who’s been unlucky throughout.
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde — Of all the four books in the series I read to date, this book was most satisfying in the culmination of all of the ongoing storylines happening in Thursday Next’s life, the timey-wimey-ness of it all, and of course the healthy dose of Shakespeare included somewhere in the plot πŸ˜€ Probably tied with the first book as my favourite in the series!
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons — Why did I not get around to this book sooner? It was wondrous, but the heart of the book, about the human experience, was mesmerising and powerful. I really enjoyed the Canterbury Tales-esque set-up (amusing considering I didn’t enjoy CT on the whole at the end). Can’t wait to get my hands on the second book!



And of course, some honourable mentions that didn’t make the above list but were nonetheless great reads:

  • Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book (review)
  • Mhairi McFarlane’s Here’s Looking at You
  • Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman
  • Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter
  • Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life (review)



And that’s my list! What were some of your favourite reads this summer (or winter, depending on where you are in the world)? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Interested in any of them?

So You Want to Read… (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Posted 22 August, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! πŸ™‚

Happy August again to everyone! For this month, I decided to feature (surprise, surprise) Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The season prompted me to choose him next, but also because I recently re-read his works (and in the case of three of his works, actually typing up reviews for them). I first read his books around 2007/2009 when I was in university but because of my work load especially in grad school I never got around to reviewing his works properly, though I greatly enjoyed them. He may seem daunting–Nobel prize-winning and all–but his writings are really such a treat.

First time checking out his works? Here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • Strange Pilgrims (review) — A great introduction. The book features twelve of his short stories, ranging from the dramatic to the strange with varying doses of magical realism, but all of them featuring Latin American characters and experiences. I think it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone in this book and there should be a story somewhere in here that will strike first time readers.
  • Of Love and Other Demons (review) — In my review of this book I mentioned that the story reads like a dark fairy tale and like Romeo and Juliet punctured with elements of madness, sickness, exorcism, and tense family relations. It’s a relatively short tale but Gabriel Garcia Marquez does a lot within the story.
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold (review) — A short tale that can be read in a day but it leaves the reader wondering and piecing together the clues from hearsay as to why a whole town knew that Santiago Nasar was going to be murdered and no one did anything to stop it. Raises questions about society and values and the group mentality.



And that’s my list! Of course there’s still a handful of his other works that I haven’t read but I think these are excellent books to start with if you’re picking up his works for the first time. If you’ve read his books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! πŸ™‚

So You Want to Read… (Federico Garcia Lorca)

Posted 14 July, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! πŸ™‚

So for this month’s edition of “So You Want to Read…”, I’ve decided to focus on Federico Garcia Lorca, another Spanish artist but from the early twentieth century. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten now as to how I first stumbled across his works but I haven’t looked back since; I’ve read both his poetry and his plays and I consider him to be my absolute favourite poet. I love the feelings he evokes through his imagery, his use of words, that sense of duende. If you’ve never read any of his works, here’s the three I recommend starting with:

  • his early poetry (review) — He’s written a number of collections, but I love his early works the most, his ghazals. Honestly I could just say pick up his poetry, period, but I do find my least favourite are his poems from New York; they’re a little longer, he was trying a different form, and it just didn’t quite work for me compared to his other poems. But do check the review link I posted there and the one over here for a sampling of some of his poems.
  • Blood Wedding (review) — From the four plays I’ve read by him, this one stands out the most in my memory. The tragedy is on a number of different levels, that sense of inevitability in the decisions that these characters make, and the imagery evoked here is just fantastic. Re-reading the plays again two years ago this still stood out for me.
  • Yerma (review) — This play was depressing but it’s quite a study in a marriage lacking in communication, lacking in direction where both parties have different outlooks and goals in life, gender roles and personal fulfillment. My heart really went out for Yerma.



And that’s my list! I hope it helps if you’re interested in reading something by Federico Garcia Lorca! Have you read any of his works? If so, which one is your favourite? Which titles have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! πŸ™‚

So You Want to Read… (Arturo Perez-Reverte)

Posted 15 June, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! πŸ™‚

For this month’s “So You Want to Read…” I’m going to be featuring books by Arturo Perez-Reverte . Now granted I haven’t read his Adventures of Captain Alatriste series, but I think I’ve read enough from his standalone that have been translated to English to put together a list like this. Plus, I’ve enjoyed his novels to date; he brings different periods of Spanish history to life through his novels, which are also chock-full of intrigue, suspense, and mystery.

So without further ado, here’s some books by him to check out from him if you’re interested in reading his books for the first time:

  • The Flanders Panel (review) — Hands down my favourite novel by this author and one I recommend the most from the titles I’ve read thus far. It was such a riveting read; if you’re a fan of really thoughtful suspenseful mysteries, this book is definitely worth checking out. The mystery, the piecing together and guessing who the culprit is, the fascinating cast of characters…Yeah, I don’t know what else to say about this novel except to check it out!
  • The Club Dumas (review) — This is probably Arturo Perez-Reverte’s most popular title, and with good reason. Mystery, suspense, secret societies and good ol’ literature–I definitely understand why they recommend this book if you’ve enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind (review) (I myself picked up this novel because of it). I need to re-read it myself as the book refers a lot of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (review) and I only got around to that title a few years afterwards but it’s a thrilling and fascinating read even if you haven’t read the classic. It’s also a lot darker in tone, as I recall, but definitely worth checking out.
  • The Fencing Master (review) — Perhaps a bit of an odd choice as I even admitted in my review that it took me a second reading to really appreciate what this novel was about and what it was trying to get at. If you’re not familiar with 19th century Spanish history, this book is certainly an eye opener because Spain was a bit…stuck, for lack of a better word, torn between values and practices that considered arcane at this point and the tumultuous ideas and developments of present-day Europe and beyond. There’s a lot of ideas floating around in this book but also plenty of mystery and intrigue.



I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Arturo Perez-Reverte for the first time! If you’ve read his books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! πŸ™‚