Friday, 22 July 2016

#fridayflash: Never Ending

It's not that it's heavy, just that it's never-ending. 

It starts as a light drizzle, and you welcome it. You want to stand in the rain, revel in the cool air that now blows through your wet clothes. Singing in the rain, indeed.

By the second hour, when it gets heavy enough that each drop stings - and you wonder if this is just rain or is it something else? - you're already in the house, curled up in bed, your hair damp from the shower you took to chase away any illness you could have caught from being caught in the rain. Though you weren't caught in it. And you don't believe in such superstition. But the rain beats a heavy pattern on your roof, and it's nice and cold as you snuggle up in your comforter with a book in hand and a steaming mug of tea on your side table. 

The tea is now cold because you've been too absorbed to remember it's there, and besides, you tell yourself, you're too comfortable to get out of bed to go to the loo, so you shouldn't be drinking anymore at this hour. Your book is almost slipping out of your fingers, your eyes are almost closed, but you're hanging on because, darn it, you want to know how it ends.

When you wake up the next morning, you find that you've only a few pages left to the end, but you're going to be late for work if you don't get up now. The howl of the wind and the torrents that beat against your window make you wish you could skip work for "weather-related circumstances" but you know that while that may work if you were snowed in (fat chance in tropical Malaysia), it's not going to work for this rain. Weather-related excuses are only tolerated up to "I was stuck in the jam because the road flooded." You'd be late, no doubt, but you still have to show up.

The rain is gloomy now, no longer refreshing, and you wish it would just stop. Because you want to go out for lunch and actually stay dry. Because you don't want your jeans to get wet because then you'd have to wash it, but it wouldn't dry because of this blasted rain. You hear horror stories of people being stuck at work because the car park flooded and water got into their exhaust and you thank God, oh thank you God, that you haven't driven - and will not have cause to drive - to any of the affected areas.

You beg off work early - as do most people - because it's still raining and everyone is afraid that today might be the day our car park would flood. There's a smell of damp in the car from when you ran out in the rain to open and close the gate earlier this morning; you can't do anything about it now and it's only going to be exacerbated later when you arrive home, so you ignore it.

Later at night, you curl up in bed again, reveling in the cool air and the feel of comfort. You finish off the previous book and curl up with a new one. The torrents have stopped now, though the sky is still dark. You look out the window and find that it's still drizzling. A smile spreads across your face.

It doesn't matter if the rain doesn't stop now, or if it's never ending. You have what you need for the weekend. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

#bookreview: The Dragon Round

The Dragon RoundThe Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeryon, captain of the Comber, is a strict, by-the-book man driven to bring the apothecary and the medicine they've sourced back home to plague-ridden Hanosh - until a dragon attack and a mutinous second mate sees both him and Everlyn cast out to sea on the captain's chance. Luck is with them and when the island they're marooned on gives them an additional surprise in the form of a rare baby dragon, Jeryon jumps at the chance of rescue - and revenge.

The Dragon Round is one of those books that grow on you.

It starts off slowly - almost too slowly - with its ponderous present tense. The subject matter is too practical - head hopping between the Captain, Jeryon, his first mate, Livion, and Everlyn, the apothecary - for Power to achieve the dream-like state I think he's trying to create, so you'll just have to slog through it until you get to the parts where it starts working.

It's on the island itself that Power constructs a thing of beauty. The dynamics between Jeryon and Everlyn are delicately balanced, giving it a rather sweet romance feel as they work through their racial, national and gender prejudices and learn to work together and trust each other as they struggle to survive.

The second half of the book, from Part Two onwards, is quicker paced - or maybe it seems so because you're already invested in Jeryon and his schemes. It continues to build, action upon action, all the way to its devastating end.

For devastating it is. You want to hate Power for what he's done, but something inside you tells you it's inevitable. Revenge is a cold, bitter poison - and that is what The Dragon Round is all about.

Note: I received a review copy of this book via Edelweiss.

View all my reviews

The Dragon Round releases on July 19, 2016. Get it HERE.

Monday, 18 July 2016

#musicmonday: In Jesus' Name | Darlene Zchech



Brought to you by this week's anniversary practice.

[is also wondering about that curious lag/drag at about 3:17]

Friday, 15 July 2016

#fridayflash: Not the one (excerpt from Winds #2)

But even after the appointed time, Danis, Hana and the babe did not arrive at the castle nor did any news from the south come to the Castle. Restless, Mica paced the ramparts.

He grew melancholy as the days passed and neither his grandfather’s advice nor the Steward’s warnings made a difference. Instead, he spent his days in the Painted Hall, talking to the Yuki-musumi, for she appeared as young as him.

“Do you intend to kill me?” he asked her one day.

She raised her face from her inspection of the exquisitely painted whale to look at him curiously.

“You wanted to kill my father, didn’t you?” he pressed on.

“I didn't. He wanted to kill me. You don’t, do you?”

“No.” He gathered his courage. "But you tried to kill him first." At least, that was the stories said. The white snow woman had tried to kill him, so Danis had burnt her, flinging fire and coal, ending her reign of cold.

The snow girl shrugged. “He broke the first part of my curse.”

“Your curse? But surely you mean our curse.”

“My curse, your curse, what’s the difference? When I cursed your grandfather, I cursed myself too. To be tied to this tedious castle, waiting for the time when I will be released.”

Mica shivered. “I can’t wait to break the second part. Then maybe I can go home.”

“You? I’ve told you before. You can’t break it.”

“Why not?”

“You’re not the right one.”

She watched as his brows furrowed. Before he could voice the stumbling words on his tongue, she shushed him, laying a finger on his lips. "It doesn't matter if you're of age or not. Even if you were a babe, you would have broken the curse just by being here." She watched the emotions play on his face. Fear. Frustration. Worry. Confusion. "Besides, you hate it here, don't you?"

Mica nodded miserably.

"How can you be king of a kingdom you hate?"

---

I started writing a fairy tale because I saw a submission for fairy tales. The deadline is today and I'm only at 3K words, and I don't really know where it's going and I don't want to rush it.

So oh well. At least I started writing something! It's intended as a continuation to When Winds Blow Cold (hahahah) which you can get for free by signing up for my mailing list or on NoiseTrade (which gives me your email addresses to be put on my mailing list). Or you can buy it on Smashwords or Amazon (and I believe other retailers I'm too sleepy to go search links for).

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

#bookreview: The Chronicles of St Mary's - Book 1 & 2

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't intending to review this (picked it up free on Amazon, would rather have left a star rating only. Oh wait. I actually bought this with my gift card. I don't remember why.) but then I picked up the second book (A Symphony of Echoes) as an ARC from Edelweiss. So duh, now I have to review this too.

Just One Damned Thing After Another is an extremely enjoyable read. It's a time-travelling romp (if I may use that word) through history. If you like time travel stories, this is perfect for you. If you like snarky stories, this is also right for you. If you like powerful women protagonists (who are also charming and a little flustered) then this is it too.

One thing I have to say about it is that it does tend to meander a bit, like Maxwell, who can't keep her head on straight all the time, so if you want a quick read, this isn't it. It's long. Enjoyably long. And it's twisty. It's OH MY GOSH WHY DID THAT HAPPEN HOW COULD YOU twisty. Because it isn't just time travel and history. It's intrigue and betrayal and nasty people. Of course, there's a bit of romance - pretty nicely done for the most part; the prudish part of me says maybe one scene could've been faded to black. But eh, it doesn't overpower the whole story or take over the narrative, which is good.

So yes. Snarky strong woman time travel story. WIN.

(Get it here)

A Symphony of Echoes (The Chronicles of St. Mary's, #2)A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I often find the second book in a series not quite up to par with the first, especially when you've really, really loved the first book. Probably because the first one has set the bar too high.

Maxwell is still as engaging, and the stakes are as high as ever, and the plot twists keep twisting and twisting on themselves... and maybe that's it. After the mind-bogglingness that was Just One Damned Thing After Another, reading A Symphony of Echoes right away did not give my brain enough time to rest. Then again, did I really want it to rest? Thinking it through, I think the main reason I started balking over this one was the fact that she brought in my nemesis: time-travelling paradox.

I mean, yes, the paradox did appear a few times in the first book, but there, it was pretty simple to understand: DON'T BRING ANYTHING BACK, DON'T LEAVE ANYTHING THERE. In this one, you're faced with a pretty indestructible antagonist. Yes, Clive Ronan is still actively trying to destroy St. Mary's, but this time, history *has* to be on his side... merely because killing him now (or, at least, at the specific times Maxwell and her team are travelling to) would create a huge time paradox because he needs to stay alive in order to go back into the past to try to kill them. (Ugh brain. And yes, that last sentence made sense, I think?)

It's like you're hurtling through time and space over and over again, and you're like... stop! Just stop!

At any rate, this one is a little bit more heart-wrenching. I don't always like romances in my scifi, and yes, I mentioned it in the review of the first book, but the dynamics between Maxwell and Chief just drag you in and I don't know if I want to hit her over the head or side with her. Taylor still meanders a little - you can see the disjointedness between the first trip and the rest of the story - but oh well, it's still interesting even if it isn't exactly important?

So, minor annoyances aside, still a great read. :)

Note: I received a digital ARC from Edelweiss for review purposes.

Get A Symphony of Echoes!

View all my reviews

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Celebrate #Raya2016 with #Smashwords' #SummerWinterSale2016

So as you guys know (well, I think you do?) I publish on Smashwords because it's one of the online ebook retailers/distributors that sell to Malaysia! (I tried, but can't, sign up for Google Play publishing at this point, boo.)

Anyway, Smashwords is running a month-long SALE!!!

I like that word: SALE!

Coexist is on it - so you can pick up your copy at 25% off all this month. All you have to do is use the code SSW25 at checkout. They'll tell you on the page itself, but I'm telling you here now too, in case you need extra reminders.

Anna's A to Z of worship leading is - and it's at FREE! You should use the code SFREE at checkout.


When Winds Blow Cold isn't - because you can still get that free on noisetrade or by signing up for my mailing list

To check out all my books on Smashwords, my author profile is HERE. You can also go laugh at my newly filled up author interview (and maybe tweet me some questions).

To find new reads from indie authors, you can also browse all the books on sale.

Hokay. I'm done here.

Selamat Hari Raya!
And Happy World Heritage Day, George Town!