Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- December 2022

Back to more of a balance between fantasy and mystery this quarter.

Fantasy 

The Spellwright Trilogy by Blake Charlton

This is basically a standalone trilogy starring three different protagonists. I liked book 1- for a fantasy, the prophecy thing that surrounds the protagonist was twisted a couple of times making this a bit fresh and mysetrish. Book 2’s protagonist is interesting (I actually find her more so than Nicodemus who was the protagonist in book 1). It also continues in the same vein as book 1 of having some plot twists. Book 3’s protagonist is also interesting but I like her a bit less compared to book 2 and it continues the fashion of having plot twists. Overall, I would call this debut trilogy a satisfying read. 

Across the Nightingale Floor by Liam Hearn 

This is a fantasy loosely inspired by ancient Japan. It’s part of my Oriental fantasy reading. I had heard good things about it before but it turned out to be more romance than fantasy even though it’s quite plot centric. But I think I might have been outraged or substantially disappointed with it if I didn’t at least see it as predominantly a romance rather than fantasy. I had intended to finish the trilogy before but now I think I will pass. 

Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist 

I was fully expecting to not able to get to this book until next year but I finally got my hands on my local library’s copy which had a queue of 12 people. And the first thing I noticed was that I was a bit disoriented because there was a gap of at least half a year between my finishing book 2 and this particular novel. I did eventually catch up and remembered but the Prologue really threw me (given his signature of presenting the antagonists in prologues). 

I actually wasn’t expecting a throwback to the Midkemian series as I call his earlier work and I can’t say I’m particularly pleased or displeased about the reference to one of my favourite sidecasts. And after I finished this book, I felt like actually this whole series was written as an invitation for new readers to go back and read all his earlier books/series if they haven’t. I had kind of wished that this was something more standalone from the Midkemia world because while I loved the early Midkemian works (Riftwar, Serpentwar, Prince and Blood, King of Buccaneers), the series in that setting had really started to lose its charm for me even though I stuck with it as far as Darkwars and then I just didn’t like what the author was doing with it to keep such a long running series alive. But overall, this is still an okay series. 

As for my personal satisfaction, the author had a tall bar to match in terms of his earlier works and I was really hoping that he would capture the magic in his earlier works with a brand new setting. But I guess this is where his publisher and marketing and probably staying safe has taken over and my hope was firmly dashed. Oh well. Solid work, just not up there with his best. 

Mystery

Cold Iron by Alex Blakeley

It has a quite clipping pace and is really short. I felt like I could finish the physical book in 2 days or something since it only has 11 chapters. For that, it doesn’t disappoint. Something big already occurs at the end of chapter 2 and it does have one or two twists that I don’t expect. 

Before she Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

I was intrigued by the premise of what the main character does- searching out cold cases of disappeared youths. I mean, I’ve been used to reading murder mysteries mostly and this is just a somewhat fresh angle to things. Also, I haven’t read a thriller where the stakes keep on increasing like in this one for a while now. Definitely recommend this for those who like plot centric thrillers.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

The premise is pretty intriguing/chilling as presented on the blurb- the protagonist’s ex boyfriend is making his way back to her, one murder at a time. But the actual reading experience is not as fast paced as I would have thought. In fact, I kind of feel bored sometimes when the chapters delve into the past memories of the protagonist in high school that involved an abusive relationship with said ex and the love-bitchy dynamics between her and her best friend. I also guessed one of the big twists because the clues were so obvious. The ending kind of bournes out the necessities of all the memories and one memory at the ends serves as the big twist but overall, I think I’m so-so with this book. 

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman

I got to this series because I was looking up Sue Grafton out of a whim (I knew she had died and I was very fond of her alphabet series and her quirky heroine Kinsey) and the Rabbi Small series was listed as one of the inspirations for the alphabet series in that the books follow a loose theme. 

At first, it wasn’t what I expected- I mean, a murder mystery where the murder happens at the quarter mark? It felt like the coziest of the cozy mystery to me although not really- basically, in the first quarter we are familiarising with the Jewish community as the rabbi is part of and I think after the book ‘moves into the zone’ for me, I do feel like all the pace setting is needed for the non-Jewish among us readers. And even during the first quarter when I was waiting for the murder to happen, I was actually wondering when it would drop in as opposed to ‘I’m ditching this book right now, nothing happens” so I think that means the author is doing something right, at least by me. 
Overall, I am satisfied with this book and I might read some more of the series. But that’s probably for next year since I’m devoting the rest of this year to finishing the King of Furies at the time of writing. 

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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