Tag: List: So You Want to Read…


So You Want to Read… (Guy Gavriel Kay)

Posted 14 September, 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…” πŸ˜€ So for this month I decided to feature Guy Gavriel Kay and his books. He’s a Canadian historical fantasy author who has written a span of novels, some of which are popular and beloved within the genre. I had long heard of him and his works but I didn’t get around to reading any of his books until I was in grad school. Unfortunately I was busy then so I wasn’t able to review the books that I read then here on the blog. Nonetheless I enjoyed them enough to want to read his other books, which sat on my TBR pile for a number of years before I finally got around to reading them earlier this year πŸ˜› His novels are pretty amazing in that he really researches into ancient and great societies of the past, and then weaving it into an alternative history story. Historians and avid history fans may find it hard at times not to compare too much into actual historical events, but he writes some interesting characters and character arcs that it becomes easy to put aside the history (at least for a little while πŸ˜‰ ).

So without further ado if you’re interested in reading her books for the first time, here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • Tigana — This was the book that really showed to me how well Guy Gavriel Kay can not only construct this fully-realised world and society but also tell a story within a span of a single novel. I love how this book was about a lost people engulfed by another, larger empire, its people scattered and society and culture forgotten except to the minds of this people. It’s a story of survival and national identity all wrapped up in a storyline heading towards a common goal even as the major characters are all struggling with their own personal conflicts and interests. It’s a great starting point for new readers to his novels, but overall is also just an excellent fantasy standalone.
  • The Lions of Al-Rassan (review) — While I personally did not love this book as Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan is still a strong book in that it really showcases Guy Gavriel Kay’s ability to balance personal storytelling with the larger political landscape that is shifting as desert sands with the historical research that lends Rassan’s familiarity to medieval/Moorish Spain. It really felt like a tangible place for me and I cared for the pincipal characters and the stories that were before them.
  • A Song for Arbonne (review) — Wrapping up this list is the last book by him that I’ve read to date. Reminiscent of the troubadour culutre in Europe and the various kingdoms in Medieval Europe, like the other two above Guy Gavriel Kay does a wonderful job in not only creating the world of Arbonne but also the complex political and personal entanglements that these characters find themselves in. Themes of love and betrayal, the lengths you’d go for what you believe in or for a person, and cultural differences all weave in and out the stories of these characters, not to mention it was just a very absorbing read.



I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Guy Gavriel Kay 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… (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™‚