Moonlake’s Book Discovery- Dec 2018

I was going to do another book discovery back in Oct but then I decided I wanted to save it for end of the year so that I can do book discoveries in Mar, Jun etc. as opposed to odd months like this year. It appeals to my sense for order.

Anyway, below is what I read from Aug to Dec this year.  I went back to my main staple of fantasy but I also engaged in a bunch of light reading due to my Oct holiday (which both precluded me from reading in Oct and brought in a light-reading Sept when I cleared away some of my Kindle stack)

Soldier’s Son trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is the first series of Hobb that I’ve read and it really impressed me. Not so much that I have become a die-hard fan of her as I am of LOTR or Feist’s Midkemian world but I do think Hobb is a high-calibre fantasy writer. In particular, I think this series showcases her skills in the following ways: 1) she shows me how small actions (sometimes miniscule) by a weak character and a well-told story can hold reader interest (or mine anyway); 2) I think she presents war in a different slant that I’m used to seeing in epic fantasy and I think her take on it. Overall, I recommend this to connoisseurs of epic fantasy who want to experience something a little different from LOTR vibed epic fantasy (I still love them but I do want variety once in a while).

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I talked about this book last week and overall, I like it (even though chicklit isn’t my usual genre and I have no intention of making it my usual nor following this series further). Still, I think it’s a book with substance while at the same time being very approachable in language and funny at times (I’m a serious-minded gal and often humour is lost on me, especially the type in this book. But I did think bits of it were funny in a hilarious way).

Night of the Lightbringer by Peter Tremayne

I was a bit distracted by the content touched on in this book- the aspect to do with Christianity (I do not have a religion myself). I mean that in a good way- it enlightens me about certain aspects of it in an academic sense, even though I also have a sneaking suspicion that I might have enjoyed the book more otherwise.

As for the book itself as a historical mystery, I think I like it well enough (or at least as well as most of the others from this series for which I’m a long-time follower. A couple are better but I this one isn’t subpar, just right on par, I think. Sometimes when I follow a long series, it does wear off on me and I find it hard to distinguish between when it’s the fault of the author’s execution or just the novelty starting to wear off). One complaint, however, is that the final reveal of the ‘Boss’ borders on being anti-climatic. In particular, that mars the fact that I was eagerly awaiting the last chapter for the reveal of the culprit before the ‘Boss’

Masque by W.R. Gingell

Beauty & Beast in a cozy murder mystery (well, it’s not technically cozy but the murder mystery somehow takes second place to fantasy so I personally felt it’s on the cozy side, I guess) is how I would describe this book in summary form. Overall, I found it a pleasant light read but other than that, I have nothing much to add. Recommended for fans of B&B.

Life for a Life by Andy Peloquin

The only reason I read this was due to my light-reading Sept. Otherwise, I’m not much of a short story reader and a short story really has to be above the average for me to like it. In terms of this short story, write-up is solid and pace is quick but otherwise it’s just an average story.

I also read 3 non-fiction this year, 2 of which having to do with being a writer. But I didn’t find any of them great so I decided to focus on fiction here. Till next time.

What I learnt from my Broadening Horizon Reads- 2018

Photo by Mian Rizwan on Pexels.com

My Broadening Horizon Reads this year are a YA vampire/werewolf fantasy and a chick lit. Both are genres I tend to stay away from and both are written in first person (the latter is more of coincidence than design though). Below are summaries of my main take-away from each of them:

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

I think what it showed me as a writer is the power of the voice. It comes in two-folds: 1) it showed me one way of using voice creatively to go outside of conventions for a multiple narrative story; 2) it showed me how voice is a double-edged blade and that for novels which hinge on voice like I think this book does, reader empathy is 100% whether they bond with the voice (or not as in my case).

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Again, I think voice is an important part of this book. And while I found the heroine bimbotic for most of the book, I think what the voice in this book scores well on is that it does draw the readers into the heroine’s world. I also think the interspersion of letters and diary entries between chapters is a neat trick in strengthening a special aspect of the heroine or subverting/adding layers of depth to the heroine.

Above all, I think what I learnt from this exercise is to be more adventurous and go outside stereotypical impressions of specific genres once in a while. In both these novels, I found that they were better or rather I like them better than I had originally expected to (well, this is certainly true of Silence Fallen. I felt a bit misled by the back blurb for Mini Shopaholic for most of the book but then the ending did leave me sated and I actually prefer Mini Shopaholic relative to Silence Fallen). Sure, I wouldn’t like to do so all the time because I just like what I like but I am definitely convinced of the merit of introducing more variety to my reading ‘menu’.

Moonlake’s Writing updates (6)

So I had previously alluded to the fact that I’m working on a first draft (well, I’m calling it a 0.5 draft now, that gives me much more room to be rough and not use perfectionism as an excuse for procrastination). In this post, I thought I would elaborate a bit more on it. First, I had set the goal to finish the draft by my birthday next year which is in late Oct. Second, I’m glad to announce that I’ve already went over the 20% mark on it.

That’s pretty much all I have to share at the moment but I will also provide a sneak peek into the novel via the following elevator pitch that I came up with:

A fantasy story set in fictional ancient China. A young woman desperate to find her missing younger sister. A deserter out to find a new life and place for himself and his fellows. The convergence of their paths in the search for hope.

That’s it for now. Until next time.

Jigsaw Puzzles, Writing and Me

assorted puzzle game

So I just came back from my holidays and I wanted to write about something a little different from my usual focus: jigsaw puzzles. Actually, it was one of my childhood hobbies that I only recently picked back up. So what has it got to do with writing at all?

Well, jigsaw puzzles:

    Trained my intuition. That’s how I think of it anyway, so much when Mum asked me to explain how to go back about a jigsaw, I actually replied I used my intuition and that was too abstract an answer for her that she couldn’t understand what I meant. Anyway, so how is intuition useful for writing? Well, mostly the way I visualise a story is as different ideas (about characters, about a main situation, about the setting) all clicking together like pieces of jigsaw. But ideas are elusive creatures, you know. Sometimes I get divergent ideas on the same character or a particular point in the story. So I was hoping that the intuition I built up through jigsaws would transfer over when I outline stories. Then again, you can say I’m just making up an excuse for me to throw myself back into a favourite pastime 😛
    Taught me that I’m a person who does things purely because I enjoy the process. Yes, that’s right, jigsaws led me to such a self discovery and I think it’s a very important discovery. Shame that I don’t always keep it in mind! What this meant for me in terms of being a writer is that I need to be more mindful to keep the ‘play’ element of being a writer more prominent as I tackle each WIP. I’m quite self-disciplined in general. But the down-side of this is that writing often turns into a type of second job for me that is not much different from my FT job. And that’s not quite right because writing is actually my passion so while I need to persevere in it, I also need to loosen up in a sense so that I can also enjoy the process because that’s what feeds me as a person.

And let’s just keep it short and sweet today. Come back next week to hear about my writing update. Haven’t done one for a while now *rubs hand in anticipation*, aren’t you excited *wink*?