Moonlake’s Book Discoveries: March 2023


Storm Front by Jim Butcher

A lot of the people I know really liked this series so I picked it up. For me, it was okay but I didn’t love it. Not sure whether that was my issue with audiobooks again after a lapse but it’s not really holding my attention despite me using the trick of doing something else as I listen to the story.

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson

For a novella, this is pretty good. A fast paced read with plenty of stakes for the main character.

The Poppy War by R.F Kuang 

Most of you would know or figure out that I’m Chinese like the author and as such it’s quite clear to me the source material on which the author draws her inspirations. There’s no extra surprise for me there, not that I really fault the author for that. Most credit the WW2 as the source material but I can see that the Opium War features a little in there as well albeit just a once-off mention (since I don’t know that giving locals opium was a part of the strategy of the Japanese when they tried to occupy China back then, I’ve been watching heaps of Mainland Chinese spy thrillers and none of them had such plot lines. I do know that was part of the central conflict of the Opium War). 

Overall, I feel that the book is solidly written but not particularly my cup of tea. I guess my heart is still in epic fantasy or sword & sorcery as opposed to other sub-genres of fantasy. I was initially a bit thrown because the name for the Chinese chosen in the novel sounds quite similar to what the Japanese call themselves (both starting with the letter N anyway) but that was only a thought that lasted one chapter so no biggie. I don’t think I will continue with the trilogy. 

The Sum of All Men by David Farland

I picked this up because I randomly heard about this series by David Farland via FB and was just curious about the magic system. 

It was all right but I’m not sure I’m that keen to follow this series after reading this first book. On the other hand, the whole arc of the first quartet at least seems somewhat interesting. I might have a peek at the second book and then see whether I want to continue with this series. 

Suldrun’s Garden by Jack Vance

My whim had shifted and I decided to pick up the Lyonesse trilogy which I knew I had read but I had forgotten all about it except for some broad gist that the main character was from our world and then whisked into a fantasy land where things were a bit different. Turned out what I supposedly remembered was almost entirely wrong except for the fact that the story occurs in the Elder Isles which supposedly had sunk (not sure if that’s the author’s fabrication or historical lore). The only other accurate memory of it was that it had a quite lengthy opening in that it starts with a princess but then the story moves on other characters. Anyhow I will have more to say about the book/the whole trilogy in June.  

Science Fiction

Up the Line by Robert Silverburg

It’s funny how I came to this book. After the Black Echo, I was keen to go back to fiction published a long time ago and this was the first published book when I ran a search on fantasy on local library’s electronic catalogue even though it’s a time travel book and Robert Silverburg is more known as a sci-fi author (and the introduction to the book firmly listed this in sci-fi). 

It’s a witty book overall and easy to read. I can’t say it’s my cup of tea especially but a solid piece of work. Strangely, I like the introduction of the book which I read after I finished the book and think that it does add value in that it gives a broader perspective and analysis of the novel. 


The Tutor by Peter Abrahams

It’s a solid mystery focusing on plot as I like it but character development is solid too. I did come by it via its author who won an Edgar award so I will definitely want to revisit him in the future since I can now confirm that his work is to my liking. 

The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie

This is a solid debut mystery. The different cases that female protagonist, Sargent Kate Miles, investigate seem unrelated at first and have me stumped as to how they are all tied together (as it says on the back cover blurb). Close to the end, when the connections are shown I felt a little fizzle down of excitement (in the form of a mini-anticlimax) but that was quickly saved by an unexpected twist. Overall, I do like it okay. It would appeal more to a mother who can empathise more with the protagonist who is going through a pregnancy while still on the job. 

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

I deliberately pruned my library catalogue for something written a while back and chanced on the first of the Bosch series by Mike Connelly. And man, did I not find exactly what I like about mystery? All the contemporary mysteries have super short chapters that are meant to be fast paced but in truth I’ve found a lot of them to be bland according to my taste. This book proves to me that you don’t need the mechanism of short chapters at all if your story is naturally fast-paced and plot-driven just like I like it. 

I did guess the twist towards the end but there’s still some details about it that I haven’t guessed.

Like I said, if you like fast-paced mystery and are mostly tired of contemporary mystery fiction run on super-short chapters, then try this.

Blood Work by Michael Connelly 

I thought I would try another series by Michael Connelly and picked this one up. I had a bout of indigestion and complications while reading this that sometimes interferes with understanding but I feel like this one was even more plot-centric compared to Bosch. But overall, I can’t really say I preferred one to the other and I mean, they are all written by the same author so who cares? 

At any rate, kudos to the author. He’s just made it to my list of comfort authors. 

The Poet by Michael Connelly 

Yet another solid mystery from this author and just when I thought I detected a common pattern underlying his work, that turned out to be a misdirection. So good work. 

The Lincoln Lawyer by Micahel Connelly

I’m clearly on a roll to sample all of Connelly’s different protagonists. And so far, due to the protagonist’s occupation probably, I feel like this is the most distinct from the other characters. And to top it off, I learnt through the sneak peek into the next book that Mick Haller is actually Bosch’s half brother. Wow, no wonder these books are all Bosch Universe.  

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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