Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Help Fight Illiteracy


It’s Giving Tuesday, a movement to balance the consumerism of Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Grammarly has chosen to focus on the problem of illiteracy this year. From their website:

“…help stomp out a truly global problem: illiteracy. A few months ago, in honor of International Literacy Day, we gathered the latest statistics from around the world to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. Literacy is an essential skill and human right, yet the numbers show that there are still 757 million adults who can’t read or write a simple sentence.” The infographic below shows these statistic.

Global Literacy Infographic

Infographic courtesy of Grammarly


Some thoughts on “Under Magnolia”


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted book reviews here. Life has a funny way of subverting even the best of intentions. The result is that I have a huge backlog of books and reviews. I won’t necessarily post all of them but I do plan to get back to posting reviews periodically. Today’s selection is Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes.

Under Magnolia
I should start with a brief admission – I’ve been a fan of Frances Mayes since I first read Under the Tuscan Sun in the late 1990s. Like many, I dreamed of visiting Tuscany and breathing in the scents of the Tuscan hills. In moments like today, when snow is still falling after months of frigid weather, I dream of escaping to a sweet life as an ex-pat in Tuscany. So when her publisher offered the chance to read her new work Under Magnolia, about her life growing up in America’s Deep South, I jumped at the chance.

Frances Mayes shares a sense of place through her descriptive language, luring the reader to experience sensations with her. This is what draw readers to her works and makes her “armchair travel memoirs” so powerful, her use of language evoking a place so real that it pulls readers away from the everyday.

I’ve visited Georgia several times over the years, both small, rural towns and bustling Savannah. To my northern eyes, it’s as different as Tuscany. The pace of life, the smells, the food, are all deeply embedded in the landscape. When Mayes describes the sun as something that “could melt a bar of gold,” my body knows exactly how that sun would feel.

In Under Magnolia, Mayes continues her exploration of “place” and the meaning of “home” in the signature style so beloved in her earlier works.

ISBN: 0307885917
ISBN13: 9780307885913

336 Pages
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Author Website:

(Disclosure: A review copy of this novel, e-book version, was provided by the publisher.)

Finley is not amused


I'm hiding out in my basket until it's safe to come out!

“Too much snow, how’s a guy to explore when his feet keep getting wet. Make it go away!” At least, that’s how I’m interpreting this expression. Batten down the hatches, the storm’s inbound.

Me? I’m working from home tomorrow. Three cheers for tele-commuting.



A big Eclectic Closet shout-out to Bookninja for being featured tonight on The Arts Tonight with Eleanor Wachtel. The feature which ran just after 10 pm tonight should be posted in a few days on the Arts Tonight website so check it out if you get a chance.

Congratulations as well to Bookninja for winning the Canadian Blog Award for Best Entertainment Blog.

Selsi Sea Rocks – a new Toronto shopping establishment


If you’re looking for something different for gifts, you should visit Selsi Sea Rocks. Celebrating everything salty, this unique sea salt bar offers truly flavourful gift ideas. Owner Andrea Brockie used to have an outdoor stall at the St. Lawrence Market but decided to move to a retail location to expand her range of products.

As a special treat, every Sunday in December you can experience complimentary sea salt mini massages and reflexology, to help combat the stresses of holiday shopping!

Selsi Sea Rocks
2 Gladstone Ave.
(at Queen St. W.)

UPDATE (February 13, 2007): Due to condo construction, Andrea had to give up her storefront. You can now find her back at the St. Lawrence Market but indoors on the lower level.

Welcome to the world Matthew Timothy


Making his first appearance, my four-hour-old nephew – Matthew Timothy. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 oz. and 20 inches long, Matthew has brown hair with curls.

Happy Birth Day Matthew!

A blogger’s apologies


Into every blogger’s life comes a week when they can’t seem to post at all and this has been mine. Life explodes with craziness and good intentions of daily posts go out the window. The stack of books waiting for reviews to be typed up has grown monstrous, so expect a flurry of posts next week.

Tonight I head to Baltimore to attend Stitches East – entering that nirvana of yarn goodness. I wish you all days filled with books and will report back next week, refreshed and overflowing with creativity.

I’ve been quoted!


What a thrill to discover that you are being quoted by an author in their press material. I’m still waiting for that elusive quote on the book jacket!

Here are links to quotes I’ve discovered:

For The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

For Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman

For The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

For The Unwritten Girl by James Bow

For In Arctic Waters by Laura Crawford

For Some Like it Haute by Julie K.L. Dam

For Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

For A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

For Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines

For The Exquisite by Laird Hunt

For Miss Understanding by Stephanie Lessing

For The Inhabited World by David Long

For The Things That Matter by Edward Mendelson

For The Restoration of Emily by Kim Moritsugu

For Luxury Knitting by Linda Morse

For Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson

For Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce

The 2006 Book Sense Halloween Top Ten


Book Sense has announced their Halloween Top Ten (part of the “Get Caught Reading” campaign)and two books I’ve reviewed this year made the cut.

#2 – The Mercy of Thin Air: a Novel by Ronlyn Domingue

#8 – The Inhabited World: a Novel by David Long

If you haven’t read these titles yet, may I suggest you take the earliest opportunity to pick these up? Oh, and what books would be on your top ten for Halloween?

What is Get Caught Reading?
Get Caught Reading is a nationwide book and magazine industry-supported literacy campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read.


A mini-vacation – back on September 12.


I’m taking a mini-vacation this week to catch up on reading and writing reviews. So in the meantime, feel free to peruse the archived book reviews and I’ll be back with fresh reviews on September 12.

In the news – I’m highlighted in this month’s Armchair Interviews ezine. This is a bit blush-inducing, but publicity is a good thing. Andrea and Connie do a great ezine so I would recommend signing up on their site.

Happy reading everyone – and don’t forget to enter my first book giveaway, the deadline is September 15!

Where did the summer go?

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