Tag: Books: Recommendations

So You Want to Read… (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Posted 25 March, 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, I will be featuring J.R.R Tolkien, and in a rather nerd moment, I have specifically scheduled this post for March 25, which is an important date in Middle Earth as it is the day the One Ring was destroyed and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth won against the forces of Sauron. Today is also Tolkien Reading Day; you can find out more about the event and my post on the day in this post.

But moving along, I know there’s a lot of apprehension when it comes to checking out Tolkien’s works; you may have seen the movies and are keen to check out the books but either saw how long they are and heard how difficult it is to get through them. I understand. Perhaps you want to try some of Tolkien’s other works before sinking in to LOTR in the meantime?

  • The Hobbit (review) — The perfect introduction, especially as some events do lead right into LOTR. The writing of course is a lot different compared to LOTR, a little more whimsical and directed for a younger audience. But it is a good book for all ages, a lot of funny moments but also moments of bravery and wonder.
  • Tales from the Perilous Realm (review) — Maybe you want to check out some of Tolkien’s short stories. This collection is a nice one, filled with magic and dragons and humour. There’s also an essay at the end that gives readers a taste of Tolkien’s academic writing and thinking, pondering on the faery-tale stories and their origins. There’s only one section that ties in to Middle Earth but you don’t have to have read LOTR to read that portion.
  • Letters from Father Christmas (review) — This was the most recent Tolkien book that I’ve read and I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to it! It’s such a precious book of letters written by Father Christmas to Tolkien’s children, complete with drawings and little stories of what he and his companions have been up to prior to every Christmas. Absolutely delightful, an excellent book for all ages, families, etc. πŸ™‚

I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in reading any of his titles! Are there any other J.R.R. Tolkien titles you’d recommend to new readers (prior to LOTR or the Silmarillion)?

Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 10 March, 2015 by Lianne in Meme / 10 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Ten Books For Readers Who Like _________

What topic shall I choose for this week? Was sort of scrambling around a bit, as the last post I did about this topic featured Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey (post). Well, like that last post, I decided to split this post up so that I can give two sets of recommendations πŸ˜‰

For the first five, I decided to go with Wolf Hall; the BBC series aired the miniseries back in January based on Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall (review) and Bring Up the Bodies (review). I’ve a hankering to re-read the books, but in the meantime here are some other titles to check out if you like the books/miniseries.

  1. Maurice Druon’s The Iron King (review) — Okay, this and the next entry are two that I believe have been recommended quite a bit with Wolf Hall lately. The court of King Philip the Fair of France was pretty ripe with political intrigue and conspiracy, you’ve got schemers at every corner and plenty of character drama to boot.
  2. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (100 Things) — Again, plenty of political intrigue and scheming to go around with lots of Machiavellian characters and characters pursuing their own interests in an effort to secure power and control of the Iron Throne.
  3. Thomas More’s Utopia — Thomas More has become quite a topic of contention with Mantel’s books and the series in terms of his portrayal. Why not check out his own writings?
  4. John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy — This book ended up on my recommendations list for Wolf Hall because I think the style is similar: a very quiet “Oops and you’ll miss it” narrative. Mantel’s narrative is more compelling whereas le Carre’s is clinical (to fit the genre), but I think fans of the show will enjoy this.
  5. Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Fencing Master (review) — The main character of this novel, Don Jaime, is dragged into a political conspiracy without realising it. The political situation isn’t in the forefront per se, operating instead in the backdrop and affecting Don Jaime in a different way, but it’s nonetheless interesting. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the political stuff and questions weave in pretty subtly, as Don Jaime is a man who just wants to live quietly, really.
  6. +++

    For the second batch of five, I’ve decided to go with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I never reviewed the book here, but I did read the book some years ago. The second half of series 1 is coming back next month on television and maybe you need a few books to stave off the wait in the meantime?

    • Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife (review) — This book probably gets referenced a lot when thinking about recommendations for those who love Outlander, but it does have the love story and the time travel elements involved. I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it.
    • Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman (review) — Set in the eve of the Second World War in St. Petersburg, OMG, the between Tatiana and Alexander was just engrossing with everything coming between their love (the war, her family, his colleagues, the government). Perhaps a little melodramatic? Heart-wrenching nonetheless.
    • Evan Mandery’s Q (review) — I was really book-pushing this novel a few years ago, it was one of my favourite novels of…2011, I believe. Time travel, different timelines, all because of the woman he loved. Why not? (plus there’s a bit of everything else in between: pop culture references, philosophical musings, etc.)
    • Susanna Kearsley’s Mariana — This is the only book by her that I’ve read to date, but her timeslip novels are perfect for Outlander fans, I think.
    • Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity (review) — If you’re more interested in the sci-fi element of time travel instead of the romance, I’d recommend this book, primarily because there is a romance of sorts in this book and the time travel does play a role in the main character’s decision-making.

And that’s my list of recommendations! Will you be checking out any of these books? What books did you recommend this week? I’d love to hear from you!

So You Want to Read… (Georgette Heyer)

Posted 16 February, 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, I will be featuring Georgette Heyer (see tag). I honestly forgot now how I was introduced to her works, but they are the perfect books to check out if you’re a big fan of Jane Austen’s works. They can be funny, the family drama intriguing, the romances lovely, and very much aware of the Georgian and Regency period (the fashions, the language, etc.).

So without further ado, here’s 5 books by Georgette Heyer that I’d recommend as starting points:

  • Venetia (review) — My first Georgette Heyer novel. This book got plenty of good reviews on GoodReads, and with good reason. It was fun, the characterisations fantastic, the development of the romance slow but well-developed (Damarel and Venetia had a very good friendship before it deepened further).
  • Frederica (review) — I love this novel and love recommending it as a Georgette Heyer starter novel because the story revolves on the subject of family, Regency society and human desire and ambition (and of course the romance between Lord Alverstoke and Frederica πŸ˜› ). Frederica’s family is such a delight to read each sibling with their own interests and goals; their dynamic together is fun to read.
  • The Reluctant Widow (review) — Georgette Heyer wrote a few Gothic-themed novels (well, two), this book being one of them. If you’re looking to start one of her books but want something more mysterious and adventurous and light on the romance, I’d recommend this book (the romance is still present, but it’s not the main storyline by any means). It’s an intriguing novel, and the main character Elinor finds herself in a very strange situation, but the family dynamics here was also interesting to read, and I honestly laughed out loud at a few instances. Oh, and did I mention that this is my favourite Georgette Heyer novel? (tough choice, to be honest)
  • Arabella (review) — Another popular title, I akin this book rather closely with Jane Austen’s works. It focuses a lot on the fashion of the period, as well as the subject of courtship and marriage. To put a twist on things, of course, there’s a matter of keeping up appearances/mistaken assumptions involved that makes the story even more intriguing/fun to read.
  • Cotillion (review) — I was honestly having a little difficulty thinking of what book to take up the fifth slot on this list. In the end I went with this novel because I remember thinking how mad this book was when I read it. Kitty Charing comes up with a pretty elaborate scheme to catch the attention of a particular gentleman (as well as strike back at the condition imposed on her inheritance). The results are craziness and hilarity and plenty of entertainment.

I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in reading any of her titles! Do let me know if it is of any help πŸ˜‰

Have you read any of Georgette Heyer’s works? If so, which of her books would you recommend for a first-time reader?

So You Want to Read… (Patricia A. McKillip)

Posted 21 January, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 16 Comments

I’m starting a new feature here on my blog called “So You Want to Read…” which is pretty much what the name suggests. Right now I think it’ll be a monthly thing just because I don’t know if I’ve read enough from certain authors to compile such a list πŸ˜‰ I think it’ll be fun though, not to mention I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to fellow readers πŸ™‚

So, for my inaugural post, the author I will be featuring is Patricia A. McKillip (see tag). Readers of my blog know that I’ve been reading a ton of books by her in the last two years. I had seen her books in the bookstores for such a long time and heard of her in passing in the fantasy circles (though not enough IMO) so I decided to check out her books. The first book I read from her was Ombria in Shadow (review), one of her later books, and absolutely fell in love it her writing and storytelling. They’re so lyrical and beautiful and mysterious. Plus, in a genre filled with trilogies and series, sometimes it’s nice to read a fantasy story that’s contained in one volume (big plus!) πŸ˜‰

So without further ado, here’s 5 books I’d recommend by Patricia A. McKillip if you want to start reading her books:

  • Winter Rose (review) — Hands down my favourite novel by Patricia A. McKillip. I also think this is Patricia A. McKillip at her best: the writing is absolutely gorgeous (found myself just sitting there and dwelling over a sentence every now and then because of how beautiful she’d describe a moment or a feeling or a change in scenery), the plot intriguing and mysterious, the characters wonderous, their lives interwoven by the mystery. Oh, and it’s a sort of is a retelling of the Snow Queen, which was pretty cool too.
  • Alphabet of Thorn (review) — The historian part of me was very pleased with this novel because one of the themes that the story touches on involves the study of history, the overlap between history and myth, storytelling (which I mentioned reminded me vaguely of Carlos Ruiz Zafon). The world-building was especially fantastic to explore and discover.
  • In the Forests of Serre (review) — Someone pointed out that this book employed some Russian fairy tale elements in its story, which prompted me to pick it up immediately πŸ˜› But it’s a fantastic tale nonetheless, and a very good example of a Patricia A. McKillip story where there’s so much more to the plot than meets the eye. The characters that populate this novel are multi-layered, their characterisations strong; I remember feeling very amused and intrigued by all of the character interactions.
  • Ombria in Shadow (review) — This was a pretty good opening book for me despite it being one of her later titles. The story leans more towards political intrigue than the use of swords, but there’s plenty of mystery and sorcery happening behind the scenes to keep the reader intrigued.
  • Od Magic (review) — In some respects, this novel feels a little lighter in fare compared to the other books listed because the magic involved has to do with nature and things that grow, but it’s also a very rich book thematically, touching on themes of risk and restriction, illusion and possibility. Another excellent piece of worldbuilding on the author’s part, and I remember feeling quite delightful about the story.

Bonus recommendation! If you’re looking for or are in the mood for something a little darker/more sombre, I would recommend The Book of Atrix Wolfe (review). Still a magical read, but it touches on themes of regret and guilt and loss.

I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in reading any of her titles! πŸ™‚ You can find plenty more books of hers that I read from her author tag.

What do you think of this new feature? Will you be checking out any of Patricia A. McKillip’s books? Or if you do read her books, which ones do you recommend for new readers? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Meme: Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 5 August, 2014 by Lianne in Meme / 16 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books I’d Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X

Gah, I’m trying to choose something different for this list from what I’ve done previously (and finally remembered to make a new tag to collect all of the recommendation-like lists I’ve made πŸ˜‰ (see Books: Recommendations πŸ˜€ ). So, for this week’s list I’ve decided to go with MAGICAL REALISM as the topic on hand. It’s a great genre, a bit confusing to define at times because it can easily cross over to fantasy and whatnot, but here’s the explanation to what it is.

In no particular order:

  1. Sarah Addison Allen’s The Girl Who Chased the Moon (review) — I’d actually recommend all of her books but highly recommended nonetheless if you’re foraying into the genre for the first time. They’re light and fun but there’s also a lot of character development and conflict that just makes for an interesting and well-balanced read.
  2. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic (review) — You’ve seen the movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. But did you know it was based off a book? The book it wonderful, filled with family history and magic, and it really fleshes out the family aspect of the story a lot more, especially the interaction between generations.
  3. Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind (review) — A Gothic tale set in 1950s Barcelona…This book is simply magical. If you haven’t read it yet and you’re a bookworm, you really need to read it.
  4. Louis de Bernieres’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (review) — Another gorgeous title, this time set in a small Greek island during the Second World War. Be sure to banish the movie adaptation made years ago, the book is a million times better and richer and just delightful. I forgot now how great the magical realism element factors into the story, but it’s just such a wonderful book, I didn’t want it to end.
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude — As I understand it, magical realism was used quite extensively as a theme/vehicle in Latin American literature. So naturally you have to read one of the classics in the field πŸ˜‰ I understand it’s a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it kind of novel, but I fall under the former. I thought it was qutie magically and intriguing and very rich in story and meaning.
  6. Isabelle Allende’s The House of Spirits — Another Latin American classic that reflects a lot of the realities and struggles of post-colonial Chile while sprinkled with some magical realism. The book chronicles the hardships and events in the del Valle/Trueba famiy, which also makes for an interesting generational novel (like One Hundred Years of Solitude).
  7. Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate (review) — Continuing along with the classic Latin American literature involving magical realism, this novel was set in Mexico. This one was especially delightful because the magic involves food so beware! Don’t read this book on an empty stomach πŸ˜‰
  8. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated (review) — I’ve actually been meaning to re-read this book to write a proper review, but this is a very curious novel with a mish-mash of elements, from the brutalities of the Second World War on the Eastern front, to a young man in the present day travelling across Ukraine to find out more about his grandfather.
  9. Ben Constable’s The Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa (review) — In my review, I described it as a mix between a Haruki Murakami novel and the movie Amelie. The lines between fact and fiction blur in this novel and there’s a touch of magical realism throughout the novel. Plus, readers who enjoy novels set in Paris will have enjoy this novel πŸ˜‰
  10. John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things — I recently re-read this novel so a review will be posted on my blog later this month. It can be argued that this novel is more solely fantasy, in the same vein as Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, but I placed it under magical realism because of the nature of David’s adventures and the interpretation of how he ended up in the places that he did (not vague enough, eh? But I don’t want to spoil it). Readers of fairy tale reinterpretations and the like will enjoy this title.

There’s other authors that I could’ve recommended but didn’t make this particular list this week–Salman Rushdie, Paulo Coelho, Alessandro Baricco, Italo Calvino, Neil Gaiman (for The Ocean at the End of the Lane (review) but again, there’s such a fine line between the magical realism and fantasy, I think)–but these are the books I’d recommend πŸ™‚ What books made it on your list?