Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- June 2022


Labyrinth Gate by Kate Elliott

I actually spent a long while foraging through my local library website before I settled on this. I do like the setup where each chapter is named for a tarot card but I only like the story so-so. I guess this is more of a romance-fantasy (portal fantasy with Victorian English vibes) as opposed to fantasy with romantic vibe to me. 

A spell for Chameleon by Anthony Piers

I’m liking the underlying world where everything is magical in some way. I also like the story overall. A good light adventure/sword&sorcery.

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

I wasn’t expecting to like this book based on the blurb but actually I’m quite taken by the characters. I personally feel this does fit with GGK’s normal high standards in terms of overall quality. There are a couple of potentially heart wrenching moments (not really for me given how cold I am but I am guessing for others) that do not come to pass and I’m quite glad for that. The overall ending is still sort of bittersweet. Then again, this is GGK and loss is a rampart theme through his historical fictional work that I’ve read so far.

The Source of Magic by Anthony Piers

Again, a nice snappy adventure featuring the same protagonist as book 1 of the Xanth series, A Spell of Chameleon. For a second, I feared that it would drastically change the underlying world that would make me stop following the series but apparently it was just a false alarm. 

The Castle of Roogna by Anthony Piers

I enjoyed this book despite the change in protagonist. In fact, I think I prefer the change in protagonist. And I actually enjoyed the subtle clever humour of the author in this book which is a change from the previous two. Overall, still a good light reading for fans of adventure or sword&sorcery. 

Blood and Honour by Simon R. Green

This is actually a re-read and while I remember the ending still, I’m very glad to learn that all the details are lost on me so it’s still a pleasant experience. Anyway, I really liked it the first time around because it’s fantasy but also features a murder and the mystery of recovering lost items and that combo just appeals to me very much. I also distinctly remember being freaked out by one particular chapter in this book (I had a memory of reading in the back cover flap that the author is supposedly writing fantasy-horror and I did think that chapter justified that particular classification) but the strange thing is that I no longer feel this way. On the second time around this is just standard sword&sorcery fantasy for me. Overall, still a pleasant read and I do prefer this to the first book in the series even though the first book was wittier. I think I just feel more for the protagonist in this particular book compared to those in the first book. 

Down Among the Dead Men by Simon R. Green

I didn’t intend to continue with this series except that the first chapter was tagged onto the end of Blood and Honour so of course I read that and had to continue. It’s okay, has a premise that keeps you reading but I just never found any bonds with any of the characters. Then again, this is one of these books where that is not important.

Once in a Blue Moon by Simon R. Green

My local library had accidentally classified this as book 4 of the Forest Kingdom series instead of Once Again in a Blue Moon (easy to see how that came about) but since it stars Rupert and Julia anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter too much. I didn’t really feel I couldn’t catch up with all the implied previous adventures that I didn’t read about. I like it as the grande finale to the Forest Kingdom series for tying up all the loose ends but since I’m not that keen about Rupert and Julia, I won’t go back and read the actual book 4.

Magicians by Lev Grossman

One of my friends recently finished this and I just remembered it when I was searching for my next fantasy read. I’m almost done with it and I would say that it’s not for everyone. The plot is really wandering and the protagonist seems quite aimless most of the time except that you understand it is something deep seated (I wouldn’t say what it is for fear it becomes a spoiler) that drives him which ties up with the author’s conception of the source of magic which has a bit of freshness to it. And this is also urban fantasy and my preference obviously still runs towards the more classical fantasy set in ancient times. But I still intend to finish this series if only because I first heard of this series during the UBC writing novel courses and I was interested in a development later on in the series. 


Fade to Black by David Rosenfelt

I was mostly using this as a way to dip my foot into the waters of audiobooks and I actually like it. The narrator is not bad, especially his ability to capture female voices although a couple male voices sound quite similar. He does tend to over-emphasise all the ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ which made them feel out of the place but that’s a small nitpick. 

Again, this is a solid thriller. Nothing too fancy with the single plot twist which I had a gut feeling in the same moment it was revealed even though I didn’t actually deduce from any of the clues left by the author (I was never that kind of astute mystery reader). 

At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie

I heard the BBC audiobook version (which had a full cast for each character in the book) and it was superb. The whole story sounded like it was made for audio. And I was completely fooled over the main crime of the novel. I haven’t enjoyed such an Agatha Christie for a long while now.

4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

Another excellent production from BBC radio. The premise actually reminded me of the Girl on the Train a bit (I haven’t read the Girl on the Train yet although it’s on my TBR list) but not quite the same. Good use of misdirection as per Agatha Christie norm. Overall, a quite satisfying experience. 

The Case of the Perfect Carer by Agatha Christie (BBC radio production) 

It works quite nicely as a short story with the twist right at the end and then voila another twist on top of that. 

Nemesis by Agatha Christie  (BBC radio production) 

I was mostly intrigued by the blurb and while the story itself is not as exciting as the blurb promised to be, overall it sticks to the Miss Marple cozy mystery feel nicely. I guessed the culprit this time but it was still a pleasant listen.

Murder at the Lobstah Shack by Maddie Day

I picked up this because I was in the mood for some light reading of the mystery genre and I can readily see that this is a cozy mystery (it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea until Miss Marple). 

Overall, I would say it is solid work. There are many suspects and nobody stands out (or at least to me, for the records I don’t think I’m a particularly astute reader). 

Others (these are just my Broadening Horizon reads essentially) 

Children of the Corn by Stephen King

I was actually creeped out by this short story. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be affected since I’ve always associated being scared with my childhood when I would peek out at a horror movie from behind a cushion. And I didn’t feel anything directly after or during (I felt like I was reading a thriller mostly when I was reading it) and it was more than one hour that I felt the chill. Talk about having a long reactionary arc. Anyway, I guess that’s kudos to Stephen King for a job well done. 

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen

I had never read a Western before so I specifically looked some up and my local library has an electronic copy of this so that settled it. 

Chapter 1 was okay- there seemed something intriguing about the main character- Jesse James. But Chapter 2 seemed too much documentary and then it basically continues pretty much in the same vibe until I decided to give up this book mid-way through Chapter 4 (it was 7 chapters in total). So that’s my final verdict: too documentary and I lost interest.

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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