Wednesday, 30 January 2013

#bookreview: Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm, #1)Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Derk is a mild-mannered wizard with a sprawling country estate, a lovely wizard wife, two human children, four griffin children and a menagerie of strange animals. Everything seems to be going well in his family until he is chosen by the Oracle to play the role of the Dark Lord as part of Mr Chesney's Pilgrim Parties.

High Chancellor Querida, the most powerful wizard in the world, is looking for a way to stop these Pilgrim Parties - packaged excursions for tourists from another world that has been slowly destroying their world over the last forty years.

Needless to say, the two don't quite get along, even though they have the same goal in mind.

I am a fan of Diana Wynne Jones' Howl series, and the Dark Lord of Derkholm didn't let me down. I loved the light and witty writing, wrapped around what is really quite a complex web of deceit and magic. The book is not dark as the title suggests (it's marketed as a children's book after all) and is actually quite funny.

View all my reviews

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Homicide Chronicle by Ralph Shamas (a blog tour hosted by @masqcrew)

The Homicide Chronicle

Defending the Citizen Accused

by Ralph Shamas

Blog Tour Hosted by
The Masquerade Crew

Friday, 25 January 2013

Stressed poetry

On the verge
Of wordless tears
Waiting to squeeze
Out in shudders

Days like these
I hate myself
Hate you
Hate everyone

Yet still looking
For that one green dot
To know you're awake
Though all I'd do is bitch
If I open my mouth

Why is this worth it again?

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

#bookreview: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way ComesSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has arrived in town. Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway are excited to visit the carnival. But somewhere along the way, as the boys prowl in the night, they are caught up in a series of frightening events that threaten their very lives.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a truly frightening story, where evil, hidden evil, darkens what should have been a happy carnival and starts taking the lives of the people of Green Town.

I struggled a little to finish this book. The writing was fine - it was beautiful. You surged in anticipation with the boys and their excitement, and slowed down a little where Charles Halloway, fifty four, plods his way slowly. It's just that horror is not quite my genre; it was cheap and it was a Bradbury. (I've fallen in love with Bradbury after Fahrenheit 451)

But still, the writing is beautiful.

View all my reviews

Monday, 21 January 2013

This last weekend...

My cousin got married...

Baby Ridgers arrived in Penang...

I received Readings from Readings 2 in the mail...

And the peak period has commenced (or my table has exploded again). 

Your regularly scheduled posts will resume... some time after Chinese New Year (Feb 10).

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Okay, so I finally watched the Listen video that's been going round the Malaysian social media network.

My thoughts:
Bawani was pretty articulate and had facts to support her points (though I've never researched the stuff so I wouldn't know if her facts were valid or not). She did sound rather emotional and excited while talking - but then again, I felt she was speaking rather as if she was in a debate, and you know all debaters are emotional and excited because they're rushing to get a point across.
Plus point to her - she actually spoke in one language at a time. I don't know if you think that's a plus point. I think it is.
Sharifah on the other hand sounded like she had the need to speak louder and repeat herself in order to get her point across. And talking about points, I didn't get what she was trying to get at. I couldn't make the necessary jump in logic required. Also, she didn't answer any of the questions Bawani raised even though she said she did.
Minus point - she couldn't speak either a proper complete sentence in Malay or English. If it were a casual conversation, fine and good. We do it all the time. But this was a formal public forum
Another point to note, if the main difference between Sharifah's POV and Bawani's was a matter of a degree, I think it was stated in one of the reports that Bawani already has a degree in psychology and is now doing a second one in law or something like that. So that's kind of... void?
(Galaxy Note Diversion at the end is also classic, I tell you, just CLASSIC! I'd watch the video over and over again just to watch hear her dismiss panelist Peter and divert attention to freebies. Bwahahaha.)

I do think however that the level of backlash is quite out of proportion. How is ridiculing Sharifah at this level of (internet) publicity less of an evil than Sharifah ridiculing Bawani  in a public forum? Okay, so it was an outrageous act by a ridiculous person - but if it's true about death threats??

Dear people who seek to change a country, do not stoop to their level.
If you do, we will never change.

Righteousness exalts a nation.

Heaping insult and shame isn't righteous indignation. It only pulls you down into their dung heap.
We are better than that, aren't we?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Mini #bookreview: A Wrinkle in Time and A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently re-read this as I just bought myself a copy during a recent book sale (I previously borrowed it). I think I loved it more this time than before, if that could happen. Then again I can't remember when I first read it, so I really can't judge.

I like the way L'engle uses Meg's faults to be their very saving grace. It reminds me that sometimes what I perceive as my faults and weaknesses can also be used by God in mysterious ways. That's not to say that we don't work to become better people, but rather that we need to accept ourselves as who we are now so that we can move on gracefully as we change and grow.

View all my reviews

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I once found the Earthsea series very exciting, having borrowed the set of four from a friend and devoured them in one sitting during a school break. After a decade (or maybe more), I found the first of the series during a book sale and decided to buy it to start my own collection.

The story itself is much as I remembered; how Ged, the young boy from Gont, full of pride, releases a black shadow into the world, almost losing his power of wizardry in the process and how, as a young wizard, he faces down his fear and his nemesis and becomes whole again. However, instead of being transported to that rapture I recalled, I found instead dry, almost boring narration.

I'm not sure if it's a trick of my memory, or whether it's the years of reading that has made the difference, but re-reading this spoilt the magic of Earthsea for me, and I begin to understand why there were some rather negative reviews for this book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Live-Action Mindjack Book Trailer Reveal

from the bestselling Mindjack series by Susan Kaye Quinn

With the help of over 20 cast and crew members, award-winning director Beth Spitalny has brought the concept of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy to life on the screen.
  When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Please share!
Ways you can share the trailer:
1) Watch the trailer on YouTube (or here)! (more views=higher visibility)
2) Post it to Facebook (copy & paste below)
Check out the live-action Mindjack Book Trailer (from the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy by Susan Kaye Quinn): When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. http://
  3) Post it to Twitter (copy & paste below)
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. Watch the live-action Mindjack Book Trailer
  4) Share to Google+, Tumbler, Pinterest, and more
Go to the trailer on YouTube and click the "share" button. Click the arrow to expand and see all the options. Easy peasy. (While you're there, click "like" on YouTube, or leave a comment!)
  5) Post the trailer on your blog
Grab the embed code from YouTube or email me for a copy of the HTML for a complete post announcing the trailer and ways to share!
Thanks so much for sharing!
To celebrate the release of the trailer,
I'm putting Open Minds on sale!
$2.99 now $0.99
for one week only
$9.99 now $7.99
for one week only

THANK YOU to everyone who is sharing the trailer today!

An EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to everyone involved in making the trailer a reality, including Director Beth Spitalny, Producer Angel Acevedo, Director of Photography Lance Kaplan, lead actor Nikki Flemming (Kira) and the many fine actors, crew members, and post-production staff who donated their time and talent to the project. For the making-of the trailer, see the Mindjack Trilogy website.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Series, which includes three novels, three novellas, and a trailer. She's currently writing a steampunk fantasy romance, just for kicks. When that's out of her system, she has ambitious plans to embark on a series about the Singularity (the time when computers become more intelligent than humans) that should appeal to fans of the Mindjack novels. Or possibly play on Facebook all day. Could go either way.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

#bookreview: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter - he hunts down renegade androids who are posing as humans on the devastated, crumbling Earth. The only thing that separates humans and androids, other than a long and painful bone marrow test, is man's ability to feel empathy for others. But what if humans are also "retired" in this process for underdeveloped emphatic abilities? And what happens when the bounty hunter starts feeling empathy for the very beings he is supposed to murder?

Written in 1968, this novel was then made into the show Blade Runner (which I haven't watched, so I can't compare them). It took a while for me to get into the swing of things, as it was written in a drier style than what I've been currently reading; I have to say this though, Philip K. Dick's writing is compelling. He subtly nudges you to question your own humanity even as you wonder if Deckard really is human, or if he's being played by the androids. What if the psycopathic killers, like the one behind the Sandy Hook shootings, was really an android who can't feel anything for others? Is empathy really what makes humans human?

I'm probably late to the party, only having heard of him recently on the web. One thing I know is I'm going to be looking out for his books from now on. Hopefully they're still in print.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Blog tour: Bringing YA to you!

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here's your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy--and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)--and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you're there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books--TEN signed books in total! 

Here's why the YA2U Team should come to MY hometown! 
Because Penang is the best place to visit when you're going on an international trip. We have beaches and mountains (okay, it's a hill), shopping, and perpetual sunshine. Except when it rains. And did I mention the George Town Literary Festival? And that we're a UNESCO World Cultrual Heritage Site?

Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown?
Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!

And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* I'm obviously ineligible for the YA book tour (though I can hope), but since most of my readers are from the USA, I'm just helping to spread the word. Because you know, free books are good all the time. :)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Blog tour: Cephrael's Hand partial review

I wanted to post a book review as part of the tour, but it seems as if I won't be able to finish the book in time! I'm still less than midway through the book, according to Kobo, and I don't think I'll have the time the rest of this week to finish reading it.

All I can say at this moment, I'm loving the book. It would be a hefty tome in print (642 pages, I think). When I started reading it, I was strongly reminded of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, but it isn't as long-winded as him (fortunately!) and there aren't annoying girls like Nynaeve, Egwene and Elaine whose constant bickering got on my nerves really fast. 

Melissa McPhail weaves her story lines seamlessly, with new revelations in each chapter that make you hunger for more.


Cephrael Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael's Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

  To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael's Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Cephrael's Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive... A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming... A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within... And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2012: a year in review

I took a screenshot of my stats page today, looked up last year's review and had the shock of my life. Sometime in the frame of 366 days, my blog somehow garnered forty-one THOUSAND page views. How did that happen?
For all my readers, regular or sporadic, THANK YOU SO MUCH. You really made my year!

It really has been a crazy and fruitful year, and I'm not sure how I got through it all. All I can say is thank you, God. And thank you, all of you who have stood by me this year, to listen to my endless whingeings and whinings.

The major highlights of the year have been:

Israel Houghton Concert: I took a trip down to Singapore in February for Israel Houghton's concert, stayed with my cousin, and managed to meet up with quite a few friends, new and old.

A to Z challenge: The fest saw me writing 26 pieces of flashfiction in April, one of which remains my top read post of all time (as seen above).

YES Broadway Penang: Met many crazily talented dancers and singers through this programme in June, and had my one minute of fame as Mrs Lovett.

A Place To Call Home, the musical: My second full-length libretto, and my first try at actually directing. Conclusion remains that... I suck at directing, but it was a great experience. Oh. I also suck at costumes (no big surprise) and overall stage designery stuff.

Launch of I finally launched my own website after thinking about it for a long time, and also launched my facebook page.

Stories from A Place To Call Home: Published a book of flash fiction based on the musical, and have 143 downloads to-date.
I'm pretty happy with this, seeing that I haven't really been doing much promotion for it.

Bali and Phuket: Two trips this year, with wonderful friends and CG members. I enjoyed the breaks even if they put me in frightening places!

GTLF2012: Attended my first Literary Festival! Also met a writer friend and attended the launch of her third novel. 

Nanowrimo 2012: Finished for the fourth time. And realised that I really need to get round to editing all these words that are lying around and do something with them. I suppose that will be 2013's goal.

Coursera: Got my first cert from for the Greek & Roman Mythology course! I struggled through some of the stuff... but it was fun all the same.

Giveaways: Ran my first giveaway on a whim. Experimented with Rafflecopter. I might do this again. On another whim, depending. 

Big Bad Wolf: Finally visited the Big Bad Wolf sale and came home very happy. I've already read 5 of the 19. All the unread books, which now fill 3 book shelves, are going into my read goals for 2013. I really need to clear those shelves out. 

Hasn't it been a really busy year? I felt quite tired going through all the things that have been happening. Looking over it now, I really don't know how I did it. 

2012 has been a good year overall, even if I didn't think it was while I struggled through it.
I wonder what 2013 will be like?