Category: Lists


So You Want to Read… (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Posted 17 August, 2016 by Lianne in Lists / 14 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new 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 summer’s winding down a bit, and so for this month’s So You Want to Read… I’m going to be featuring books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Hands down he is one of my favourite authors, he really writes Gothic novels well and has written quite a number of books for both adults and children. It’s hard to describe, but he really sets the atmosphere up for his novels that it really feels like you’re there in the streets of Barcelona. There’s a splash of magical realism, of the supernatural, but it feels so rooted in our world.

So while we’re waiting for his next novel to come out (please please please let this be soon!), here’s some books by him to check out from him if you’re interested in reading his books for the first time:

  • The Shadow of the Wind (commentary) — The book that started it all for me. It’s his most popular title, and with good reason: it’s mysterious, it’s absorbing, it’s absolutely atmospheric. There’s plenty of intrigue and danger and drama and humourous moments to go around. Book lovers and avid readers will especially enjoy this (the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? I wish such a place existed!) and can relate to Daniel and his love of reading. I love how Zafon brought Barcelona to life in this novel, it will leave you wanting to go there! (which I ended up doing haha)
  • The Angel’s Game (review) — This books gets a bit of flack for not being TSOTW despite it having been released after it. It’s a prequel of sorts, but it also works like a standalone. If The Shadow of the Wind focuses on the reader, The Angel’s Game focuses on the writer and the writer’s craft. The supernatural/Gothic elements are also much more to the fore in this novel than in TSOTW, but it’s still a fascinating read and definitely worth checking out (especially as it ties in afterwards to The Prisoner of Heaven (review).
  • Marina (review) — Of all of Zafon’s young adult titles, this book stands out as my favourite. It’s also a standalone (unlike the other three books in his Niebla series), which is great. It reminds me a lot of TSOTW with the Gothic undertones and its setting in old Barcelona. There’s a lot in this novel–mystery, action, drama, a coming-of-age story, themes of death and memory. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you checked out TSOTW and loved it.



I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 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™‚

List: Books By Canadian Authors to Check Out (+ Giveaway!)

Posted 1 July, 2016 by Lianne in Lists / 10 Comments

Happy Canada Day! It’s a long weekend up here, which is nice, and to celebrate everything Canadian, I’ve decided to put together a wee list of some of my favourite books by Canadian authors that I’ve read in the past year (2015 – 2016).

Edit (09 July 2016): A little late as I’ve been away at the end of June/start of July, but you can consider this post as part of this month’s edition of So You Want to Read… (see previous posts)

  • Still Mine by Amy Stuart (review) — I read this book earlier this year and it’s absolutely marvelous! Very atmospheric, foreboding, and mysterious; you’re not quite sure who to trust in this wee mining town in the middle of nowhere, and the protagonist is fighting her own past demons whilst searching for clues to the whereabouts of a missing woman. I’ve mentioned it recently how it’s a perfect vacation read, but it’s a great read any time, really.
  • Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (review) — This was last year’s winner of the Giller Prize, which prompted me to check it out (plus I got some verbal recommendations when I was at the bookstore shortly afterwards). It was absolutely stunning, from the premise of bringing human consciousness to this group of fifteen dogs to capturing the essense of human experience. Not to mention from the Canadian standpoint it gives a curious/change of perspective of the city I live in.
  • Family Furnishings by Alice Munro (review) — No list of Canadian literature is ever complete without mentioning Alice Munro πŸ˜› I selected this title, the latest compliation of her works, because it’s all around a solid collection. I found I prefer her later stories to her earlier ones–much easier to get into, the themes and scenarios interesting–and think this is a great starting point if you’ve never read anything by her before.
  • Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (review) — Joseph Boyden is a quite a big author up here, writing about Aboriginal experience in Canadian history and about Aboriginals and their lives as a whole. I hadn’t gotten around to reading any of his books until this year and suffice to say it was quite a read! I learned a lot about the Aboriginal contribution to the Canadian forces during World War One as well as a myriad of other topics such as the residential schools and the serious issue of morphine addiction. Can’t wait to read more books by him!
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (review) — Any book by her, really (see author tag), but to date this title has to be my favourite from her. It’s absolutely atmospheric, feels like you’re almost in northern Scotland, at Slains, facing the sea. Both storylines–the 17th century one and the present day one–were absolutely enthralling, I couldn’t quite put it down once I started reading it. I’ve enjoyed almost all of her books save for one of two but if you’re new to her works or want a sample of her storytelling, this is definitely the book to check out.



And that’s my list of recommendations of books to check out by Canadian authors! Have you read any of these titles? If so, what did you think of them? If you haven’t read any of these, well, now’s your chance! I’m hosting a flash book giveaway where you can win your choice of book from the above five titles* πŸ™‚ This giveaway is open internationally so long as The Book Depository ships to your country. This giveaway will run until 08 July 2016 at 11:59PM. A winner will be selected the following day and will have 48 hours to respond to the email so please make sure you enter a valid email address! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me at webmaster [at] eclectictales [dot] com. Bonne chance! πŸ˜€

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* – If you’ve read the above titles by Alice Munro, Joseph Boyden, or Susanna Kearsley, I’d be happy to send you a book of theirs that you haven’t read.

Edit: Congrats to the winner of this giveaway, Denise! I hope you enjoy the book of you choice. Thanks again to everyone who entered!

So You Want to Read… (Marina Fiorato)

Posted 15 June, 2016 by Lianne in Lists / 4 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…” This month I decided to focus on Marina Fiorato and her bibliography; I don’t know if it’s because the first time I travelled to Italy it was summertime but her books seem to be perfect to focus on these summer months. I forgot how I first encountered her books–it must have been during one of my searches for historical fiction set in Italy–

If you’re interested in reading her books for the first time, here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • The Daughter of Siena (review) — Also happens to have one of my favourite book covers ever, but anyway, I think The Daughter of Siena is a great starting point if you’re curious to check out her books: lots of intrigue, fascinating city and culture and history (every Italian city has its quirks and its own unique history, and Siena definitely fits the bill on all of this), interesting characters, lots of conflict and tension and overlapping interests. Quite the page turner.
  • The Venetian Contract (review) — Another fascinating and informative novel from Marina Fiorato. I only visited Venice once and while I thought I knew enough of the basics of what went on there during the early modern period/Renaissance/at its height, I learned so much more about Venice and its situation in the 16th century, and especially its relations with the Ottoman Empire. I admit, the primary interest why I wanted to read this book was because the architect Andrea Palladio was featured here (he’s known for a number of architectural buildings he constructed in the period, many of which you can see in Vincenza) and his presence certainly didn’t disappoint here.
  • Beatrice and Benedick (review) — If you love the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing (review) then you should check out this book. It puts Beatrice and Benedick’s story in a more historical setting and while I quibbled that perhaps she drew a bit too much directly from the play in terms of dialogue, it’s still a lot of fun to read, not to mention a different setting in Italy (Sicily this time).



I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Marina Fiorato for the first time! If you’ve read her 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… (Kate Morton)

Posted 13 May, 2016 by Lianne in Lists / 6 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 May! For this month’s “So You Want to Read…” feature, I decided to focus on Kate Morton. I initially was going to post the following for April, but given that it was National Poetry Month, I decided to feature poetry then and pushed Kate Morton’s post for this month. But the following blurb is still valid πŸ˜‰ : for some reason her books just scream “Spring!” for me (must be the book covers) so that’s why I decided to feature it now πŸ™‚ I’ve read all of her books to date and early on she became an instant favourite of mine; I’m always excited to hear a new book of hers coming out, she does such a wonderful job in bringing a historical period to life and writing a fascinating mystery and family drama and integrating two storylines set in two different time periods in one. Readers of historical fiction would definitely enjoy reading her books.

If you’re interested in reading her books for the first time, here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • The Forgotten Garden (review) — I think this is the book many fans of her books first read; it was certainly mine! But it wasn’t her first novel–That Would be The House at Riverton–but it certainly is a good place to start. This book kept me wondering about the mystery of Nell’s parentage and what happened all those years ago. It does seem a bit ambitious now compared to her other novels in that it juggles three different timelines instead of two, but nonetheless it was fascinating and rife with human drama and intrigue.
  • The Distant Hours — I’m personally surprised I never wrote a review of this book here on my blog because it’s certainly a gripping read. The impression it left on my mind from when I read it was that it was very much steeped in family drama, perhaps moreso than any of her other novels (and that element is big in her books!). Complete with an eerie house, yeah, this book was a very atmospheric read, almost Gothic really.
  • The Secret Keeper (review) — Kate Morton wrote another cracking mystery with this novel, this time looking at a mother’s past and tensions that led to the dissolution of a friendship and mysterious circumstances during the Second World War. Family again is a notable theme here, and I especially enjoyed the interactions amongst the siblings in the 2011 storyline.



I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Kate Morton for the first time! My descriptions are a little shorter than usual as it’s hard to say something different about each of them; all of her books, including those I didn’t mention, all have fascinating mysteries that will have you glued until the last page. Highly recommended all around! If you’ve read her 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™‚

List: Most Memorable Shakespeare Characters (to Me)

Posted 22 April, 2016 by Lianne in Lists / 6 Comments

You may have noticed this week amongst the book community that Shakespeare’s life and works has been of much discussion as we celebrate his 400th death anniversary (or thereabouts). For the past week I’ve been posting up reviews of recent adaptations that I had watched, but I decided whilst I was reading quotes and the like on Twitter that I wanted to do something else as well. I’ve already compiled my list of favourite plays (see here) but this time I would like to talk about my most memorable characters that I’ve encountered in Shakespeare’s places. Because there’s been a few πŸ˜‰

In no particular order:

  1. Touchstone from As You Like It (review) — He’s actually the reason why I wanted to compile this list to begin with. He’s absolutely hilarious, and so witty, so it was absurdly amusing to read and watch his survive in the Forest of Arden, away from court, where his wit would languish amongst the shepherds and laymen. But he had some of the best lines and scenes of the whole play so yeah, very memorable (and Dominic Rowan’s performance in the 2009 stage production was absolutely perfect (see post)).
  2. Malvolio from Twelfth Night (review) — Kind of tough call to say who was the most memorable character for me from this play as I love it to bits but Malvolio and his yellow stockings, yo, how could one forget that?
  3. Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet (review) — Another scene-stealer, he’s pretty hilarious to the point of craziness but he injects so much life and energy to his scenes, especially in contrast to Romeo’s lovestruckness and the looming tragedy ahead. I reckon it’s one of those roles actors love to take on.
  4. Mark Antony from Julius Caesar (review) — I re-read the play recently and while his “Friends! Romans! Countrymen!” speech is one of my favourites hands down from Shakespeare, I love how his character sort of flourished after Caesar’s death and he really goes after the conspirators in a rather sneaky way that no one suspected (well, we know he’s out to get them, but the stage characters don’t!).
  5. Beatrice & Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing (review) — There’s no way I could choose one over the other, the sparks were crazy electric with these two and really stole the show with their endless bantering.
  6. Richard III from Richard III (review) — Omg this guy. He’s such a smooth talker as he’s manipulating everyone around him and working his way to becoming king. His schemes are elaborate and he’s pretty ruthless at getting what he wants, but you can’t help but feel rather astounded at the way he went about it all and planned everything out.
  7. Hamlet from Hamlet (review) — Naturalemente. Though it took a second read years later to really appreciate the complexity of what Hamlet was going through and the situation that was before him. Definitely puts the complexity of human uncertainty and existentialism to the forefront here.
  8. Iago from Othello (review) — That bastard.
  9. Titus Andronicus from Titus Andronicus (review) — Actually, this entire play, but anyway… D= Titus Andronicus really takes revenge to a whole new level here.
  10. The Gatekeeper from Macbeth (review) — The only humourous element in the whole play, which is such a stark contrast that it ended up quite the highlight πŸ˜›



And that’s my list of Shakespeare characters that I found most memorable! What about you, which Shakespeare characters stood out for you? Let me know, I’d love to chat with you! πŸ™‚