Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- May 2015

I’m going out tomorrow so posting in advance again. As I promised, this will be about the books I’ve read in the last 3 months and what I thought about them. For my new followers, I don’t do book reviews per se because I’m not really objective as a reader of books in general. I can appreciate good writing but as a rule, a book either chimes with me on a personal level or it doesn’t so my bookish posts are what I call “quick and dirty summaries of my thoughts on series, standalone books and authors”.

The actual books that would be covered in this post include:

  • The boy with the porcelain blade by Den Patrick
  • Giant Thief by David Tallerman
  • The Tower and Knife trilogy by Marzarkis Williams
  • The Murder of Roger Ackryod by Agatha Christie
  • The Enchanted by Rene Denfield

Here’s what I thought about each of them:

  • The boy with the porcelain blade- to be honest, I’m sort of indifferent about it on a personal level. It is an okay read in general and it’s the first book of a series but I don’t think I’m too keen to follow the actual series, preferring to be done with the book as a standalone. That, however, is not to say that Den Patrick’s writing style is bad. Even though the story is only set in a castle, I don’t feel the underlying world being ‘constricted’ in any sense (which is what I hate in a fantasy story). Also, I do feel that it is interesting that he had decided to tell the story in alternating chapters that go between the present and the past. As for the effect of this storytelling method… well, I can only say that I personally feel that it has been a hit-and-miss. At some points, I feel that it worked really well, the chapter that delved into the past added an extra layer of depth when put together with the previous chapter on what’s happening in the present. At other times, I could see no clear link between the two consecutive chapters on different timelines so then the chapter on the past becomes a kind of annoying obstacle to the sequences of events unfolding in the present that you want to follow. So overall, I would really prefer that the chapters on the past are put in sparingly rather than the current alternate chapter structure. The story itself features some detailed scenes of swordplay, a few mysteries as the plot progresses, light brushes of politics at intervals and a kind of dark gothic feel.
  • Giant Thief-  A good light read for me, quite fast-paced, starring a typical rogue (a thief) as the protagonist and his adventures after stealing a giant to earn his freedom from forceful conscription into the army
  • Tower and Knife- it has been an interesting read for me since it is my first-time exposure to the ‘grim fantasy’ niche. It definitely tells a layered story in that in each book of the series, the protagonists face a different enemy but the underlying source of the threat (pattern magic) remains the same and in each book, some extra layer(s) of truth about this underlying threat is revealed. Such layering also happens at the level of individual character actions. All in all, I quite like such a layered story telling approach. Also, I feel that each book of this series can be read as a standalone as in each book, new character perspectives are presented which is something new to me and I find that quite interesting. Of course, I prefer to read the trilogy all together as I did because of the layering and in general I’m just more used to fantasy trilogies that “hang together”. But as I’ve alluded to before, I always need periods of “light reading” after a good fantasy series that I really sink into. While this series is definitely not light reading in terms of content, this relatively standalone nature of the books in this series is good for any fantasy readers who doesn’t feel like being drawn into an actual trilogy/quartet/quintet etc.
  • Murder of R.A- a quite unique twist in terms of the culprit and by quite unique, I mean that I think I’ve read another book of hers where she did the same thing. This copy at my local library includes a foreword and afterword by Laura Thompson who is a biographer of Christie and in my opinion, reading them in addition to the actual story not only gives you more insights into Christie as a person and her conceptualisation of the book but is an enjoyable experience in and of itself.
  • The Enchanted- I forgot about it when I did my post on unusual reads. I actually didn’t pick this book on my own but because I joined a book club and it was designated as the book of the month. The story is set at a death cell prison, with the narrator being a death-row prisoner observing about the blossoming love between a ‘fallen priest” as he calls him who works at the prison and a lady who works to help death-row prisoners get a kind of re-assessment (or get clear) before they are due to be executed (I don’t know the actual technical term for it, this is what it roughly is in my own words). There’s some beautiful prose in this book but more, I like the fact that it tells of a lot of disturbing events but doesn’t tell it in a very sentimental way that gives the readers emotional baggage.

I have the following books currently borrowed but haven’t started to read yet:

  • The Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
  • A Dreadful Murder by Minette Walters

Going forward, I have the following books marked on my reading list, not in any particular order (all of them available at my local library):

  • The Noble Warriors trilogy by William Nicholson (YA)
  • The Desert of Souls by Howard A. Jones (historical fantasy mystery)
  • People of the Weeping Eye by Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear (historical fantasy)
  • Shadow’s Son and Shadow’s Lure by Jon Spurk
  • Wolfsangel by M. D. Lachlan historical fantasy mystery)
  • Keith McCarthy mystery books

I have scrapped both the Imriel trilogy by Carey Jacqueline and Ian Irvine’s trilogy off my reading list, the former because only book 2 is accessible to me and the latter because my fellow Strolenati told me that the it was no good (he said that Ian Irvine doesn’t seem like a bad writer but it looked like he was writing according to trend, resulting in the creation of one-dimensionality on a grand scale). I’m contemplation about the Mistborn trilogy from Brandon Sanderson because somehow my local library only has the first book of the trilogy in English but instead has the full trilogy in Chinese. While Chinese is my mother language, I never has a thing for translated books (I read some of the world classics in childhood which includes Pride and Prejudice and reading it again in English as part of high school literature analysis really drove home to me how much loss occurs in translations). On the other hand, I have read multiple positive reviews about the series so now I’m of two minds on it.

That’s all for books for May. Stay tuned for the recurrence of this post on the first Monday of August.

P.S. This is the second long-read that I’ve written and I’m still surprised by it.

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