Tag: Books: Classics

Books: Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 10 March, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Another batch of mini-reviews today (I think this might be something of a trend this year?)! This time it’s mostly classics, novellas, and one DNF *le sigh* —

The Devil’s Nebula (Weird Space #1)
By: Eric Brown
Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Rebellion Publications

Best-selling author Eric Brown has created a brand new shared world for Abaddon Books: Weird Space. This thrilling space-opera series will begin with the release of The Devil’s Nebula. Brown will introduce readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’erdowells who are part of the Expansion – and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire. When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too – an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their hideous bidding, only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all.

I received a copy of this book when I signed up for Rebellion Publication’s newsletter which was cool. Unfortunately a few chapters into the book I had to put it down: the characters didn’t strike my interest and despite throwing readers directly into the action from the get-go I just wasn’t interested. I’m normally all for spac opera but this just didn’t catch my attention at all, and with so many other books on my TBR pile, yeah, I had to put it down.

Rating: DNF

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 23 December, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Okay, here we are, last batch of mini book reviews for the year πŸ™‚ Included in this batch of reviews are:

So without further ado…

The Complete Father Brown Stories
By: G.K. Chesterton
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths.

This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.

Whoo, I finally got around to reading–and finishing–this book! I had long been intrigued by the Father Brown stories after seeing its recent adaptations here and there (haven’t watched them myself but my family has) and it has sat for an equally long time on my TBR pile. I started reading it over the summer and slowly made my way through it for a good part of the year. I admit, I found it a little harder to go through his stories compared to other short stories or novellas of such length; I don’t know if it was partly because the font in my edition was ridiculously tiny, but I find you really have to concentrate quite a bit with his stories, they’re not something you can pick up and read on a whim like contemporary mysteries. G.K. Chesterton crams quite a bit of background and detail into his stories, which I appreciate.

Which brings me to Father Brown himself. He’s quite the character, never quite in the forefront, his appearance rather average (short, homely-looking). But his remarks and observations were interesting and sometimes amusing, and I love the way he just shows up and solves things. His approach, his mix of Catholic teaching and insight on human behaviour, was wonderful, he really is quite a different “detective” from the likes of Sherlock Holmes.

I’m glad I finally read The Complete Father Brown Stories. Perhaps not the best choice if I wanted to unwind, but they’re an interesting set of stories with a lot of quirky mysteries and plenty of characters. Despite this collection containing all of the stories featuring the titular character, my favourite stories are still the first two, “The Blue Cross” and “The Secret Garden.” I also really liked “The Hammer of God”, “The Eye of Apollo,” and “The Oracle of the Dog.” Readers of classic mysteries who haven’t checked out Father Brown’s stories should!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 25 November, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Here we go, another set of mini-reviews that couldn’t possibly fit in review posts of their own xD Once again this batch of mini-reviews features mainly classics (especially from the Little Black Classics series–after oggling over them for a good chunk of the year, I finally got my hands on some of them! πŸ™‚ ). Included in this batch of reviews are:

So without further ado…

How We Weep and Laught at the Same Thing
By: Michel de Montaigne
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

‘No one characteristic clasps us purely and universally in its embrace.’

A selection of charming essays from a master of the genre exploring the contradictions inherent to human thought, words and actions.

I first encountered Michel de Montaigne in my first year of undergrad. We had to read a selection of essays for World Literature class and absolutely fell in love with his stuff; he wrote about things that I often thought about, and I could totally emphasise where he was coming from with certain topics. I wish I had picked up his complete works when I was in undergrad instead of the required selected text, but whatever, every now and then I’d pick up a slim volume from Penguin Classics featuring a few of his essays. This is one of them, in which he contemplates on the nature of human thought, how we define ourselves, life, death, etc. I don’t know what else I could really say about it except that it’s worth checking out; a lot of his observations are still applicable today and to the human condition.

Rating: ★★★★★

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So You Want to Read… (Elizabeth Gaskell)

Posted 4 November, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 10 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™‚

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Elizabeth Gaskell (author tag). Not entirely sure why but it seemed fitting to place this list for the month of November; there’s something about some of her books that seem perfect in the autumn season πŸ™‚ Anyway, I first picked up Elizabeth Gaskell’s books around…2007/2008 after someone recommended the ever-wonderful 2004 television adaptation of North and South; if you haven’t seen it, this is an absolute must. It was also the first time I encountered the wonderful actor Richard Armitage grace my screen πŸ˜› —

(gif source)

*ahem* Anyway, I read the book and absolutely fell in love with it. I picked up a number of her books since, though sadly I don’t have reviews for some of them. Nonetheless, here we are, here’s my recommendations of which of her books to check out if you’re interested in reading her books πŸ™‚

  • North and South (review) — An absolute given πŸ˜› It’s kind of like Pride and Prejudice (review) except it’s set in northern England and really there’s a whole lot more to the novel than the growing relationship between Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton. This book immediately solidified my love for Ms. Gaskell’s writing, the way she’s able to interweave social commentary to a very engaging and interesting story populated with well-rounded characters. It’s a gem of a read, definitely and highly recommended!
  • Wives and Daughters — Elizabeth Gaskell did not finish this novel due to her death, but the book more or less hints to how the story was going to end (she also told a friend, I believe…and then of course there’s the BBC adaptation starring Justine Waddall and Keeley Hawes; definitely worth checking out, by the way, it’s an excellent series!). Molly and Roger’s budding romance is far more quieter, and punctured with obstacles from Molly’s stepsister Cynthia to family drama on Roger’s side, but it’s quite an interesting read in character and social dynamics and interactions.
  • Cranford — BBC also made two delightful series based on the stories set in the sleepy town of Cranford. It’s a far different read than the first two but just as enjoyable as the town is populated mostly by elderly women facing the modernisations that England was embarking in at the time. There’s of course the social element ever present in these stories, but it’s nonetheless a fun read and quite different (I think) from many of her other works.
  • Ruth (review) — I read this book more recently and omg, the feels. Definitely on the bleaker side of life with everything that Ruth has to deal with and suffer, but it’s an eye-opening read on both a major social stigma at the time as well as the different reactions and perspectives on the subject. But don’t despair too much on the bleakness, there are moments of hope, not to mention it’s just such a read–I personally couldn’t put it down, I was wholly engrossed in Ruth’s journey.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s books for the first time! What’s your favourite Elizabeth Gaskell novel? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?

So You Want to Read… (Edith Wharton)

Posted 7 October, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 6 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™‚

For this month’s So You Want to Read… I decided to go with Edith Wharton. I got around to reading her books a few years ago after hearing so much about her works. Since then she’s quickly become one of my favourite classic authors and while I recently came across a few titles of hers that I didn’t love as much as others, I still find her to be a stellar writer with such a wonderful grasp of language and understanding of human motivation and feeling. I understand that people can be a little ambivalent towards her as many had to study her novel Ethan Frome in high school; I read it earlier this year and I can see why people might be apprehensive to try her other works as omg that book was especially depressing.

So without further ado, here are some of her books that I’d recommend if you’re planning on checking out her books for the first time:

  • The Age of Innocence (review) — This and The House of Mirth tackle some rather hefty issues and the relationships overlap and connect in complex ways, but I still find this novel to be of lighter fare compared to the latter. There’s also the love story, but I thought the social commentary and the representation and status of women were the far more interesting elements.
  • The House of Mirth (review) — This is my favourite novel by Edith Wharton and normally I recommend it first, but you honestly have to be in a particular mood to read it as it can be depressing. You can’t help but feel for Lily as things go from bad to worse, and it’s just heartbreaking, but Wharton’s prose is magnificent and her observation so astute, I found myself identifying with some of the deeper themes that the novel presents.
  • The Bunner Sisters (review) — It’s shorter and thus it’s not as fleshed out as the first two titles but it’s still much more accessible than some of her other stories. Plus, the premise was interesting in that the two main characters featured are sisters; one sister more than the other, but it still has different features compared to some of her shorter works. It also has some similar running themes you’d find in her other novels, but if you’re looking for one of her shorter works to check out first, then either this or the following will work.
  • Summer (review) — Rumour has it they’re planning on adapting this novella into a movie? Anyway, I can sort of see it happening as compared to The Bunner Sisters the characters and motivations are much more fleshed out. It can still be a dark novel as it deals with the subject of a fallen woman, as well as borderline taboo issues, but again Wharton writes with such clarity as readers gain a glimpse into what the main character Charity is going through.

I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading Edith Wharton’s books! What’s your favourite novel by Edith Wharton? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to check out?