Gardens of the Moon

Steven Erikson was not a name I knew until I picked up Gardens of the Moon, the first of a long series referred to as The Malazan Books of the Fallen. If the series vaguely rings a bell somewhere deep in your mind, it is most likely because the books take up a good deal of space in the typically small fantasy section of every bookstore. But, the mass market paperback has a very bland cover and the summary was written by a publicist who either holds a vendetta against Erikson or simply does not understand readers. Whatever the reason, you often see this series and move along. One faithful day, I saw this series and opened the cover to see a recommendation by Glen Cook, the genius behind The Black Company, and on his recommendation I bought the book.

If you want a light read for the summer, this is not your book. If you are looking for a story that reveals itself to you like a lady of the night, look elsewhere. If you seek a relationship with a novel that makes you work but rewards your work immensely, this is the novel for you. (With ten novels, the relationship you begin by saying “yes” to Gardens of the Moon is sure to last for a while.)

Erikson does not present to you a high fantasy that follows the established rules of high fantasy. Rather, he gives you an entire world to visit filled with its own poetry and artists, with scenery that will establish a foothold as firm as your mental image of your home, and realistic thus unpredictable characters. Erikson challenges you with a story as straightforward as a mountain road and rewards you with poetic prose and story the lingers, months after you have set it down. One day when you drop coffee over your new shirt, you will murmur “Hood’s breath!” and realise just how much Erikson’s world has become part of your own.

-A Bookish Girl

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

The danger of reading a nonfiction collection written by an author I really like is I have the impulse to stop reading and pick up books from every collection or new author they mention. So, I have taken a month to read this book. Not because it is not interesting or it is particularly long. Rather every mention of a new author or series required me to track down a copy of whatever it was and read that before continuing to the next piece in this collection. As a guideline for choosing new novels, short stories, graphic novels, and artists to explore, this book did not let me down at any turn.

As a standalone book filled with a collection of speeches, newsletters, introductions, and previously published non-fictions, this book was interesting and organised in an easy to follow manner. It opened the door to the mind of one of my favourite living authors and I rather enjoyed what was exposed beyond that door. There are parts that get a bit repetitive, but we all retell the same few stories every once in a while, so it is easily forgiven and not terribly distracting.

-A Bookish Girl

Prince Charming Must Die

Presented as a young adult novel with a strong feminine lead. The promise of an intelligent hero without the overused love triangle cliche. A story about fairy tales coming to life and not quite fitting into our world. What an intriguing idea!

However, there are times you find a good idea and it is poorly executed, but you like the idea so much you press forth. It is such a great idea, it must work out. All the hope and persistence in the world does not change the facts, the execution of this idea is subpar. With so many amazing tales out there, I refuse to finish a book just because I have started it. (We only get one life and we cannot waste it on the poorly executed books.)

Halfway through the second of these books, I found I could no longer press through for the sake of the interesting idea. Perhaps because that idea was thrown on the backburner and rarely even came to play. The strong female hero was a weak, complaint-driven teenager to whom I am sure very few teenagers would relate. (I would recommend Bella, the painful Mary-Sue heroine from the Twilight Saga, before Alice from these books.)

This book was not for me. The humour seemed to be weak sarcasm often used as unexplained disdain for the main character’s parents. (We are told they are embarrassing, but 1.5 books into the series, I haven’t figured out what is embarrassing about them. They actually appear to be decent folks.) The focus of the novels seemed to be on anything but the storyline. I was let down by the execution in every way – clunky writing style, uncomfortable transitions, little action, and a none-too-clever main character.

-A Bookish Girl