Thursday 28 February 2013

My #atozchallenge list of words

We played a game on Tuesday for icebreakers in carecell. It went like this: "I went to the supermarket and bought..." and each person takes turn to fill in an item starting with the letters A until Z. Woke up this on Wednesday morning and went Voila! Problem solved! I have my words for A to Z challenge next month.
Surprisingly I still remembered almost all the words, except Z.

Anyone wants to help me with Z?
P/S Sign ups are still open here.

Also, oh lookie! My KOL account still exists!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Readings from Readings 2: a review

Readings from Readings 2: New Writing from Malaysia, Singapore and BeyondReadings from Readings 2: New Writing from Malaysia, Singapore and Beyond by Bernice Chauly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readings from Readings 2: New writing from Malaysia, Singapore and beyond, is a wonderful collection of work, comprising short pieces of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The flavour is undoubtedly Malaysian (ok, and Singaporean) with sprinklings of other voices in between. I found that I preferred the local (or at least Asian) pieces more than the odd sprinkling of “Western” names that found their way into the book. For one, Marc de Faoite’s pieces on Night Fishing in Langkawi and The Milking Pen were rather bland, non-moving pieces that might have worked well with a more introspective or literary-type collection of stories. Also, whilst I liked Crimson Starlet, it felt rather out of place in the anthology, having nothing at all to do with Malaysia, or even anything remotely Asian.

Angeline Woon’s Big Bertha and the Stones of Justice and Shahminee Selvakannu’s Lighting the Darkness highlight starkly the realities of life and the apathy of the powers-that-be in Malaysia. Fadzlishah Johanabas’ Picking up the Pieces gripped me right from the start with the power of love and longing in his words. Damyanti Ghosh’s An Orchestrated Ending was beautiful prose with an unexpected ending, whilst Alfian Sa’at’s The Cat Who Asked For Forgiveness made me chuckle.

The non-fiction pieces have power of their own: Preeta Samarasan talks about the prejudice she faces as the dark-skinned mother of a blue-eyed child in Blue, whilst Saras Manickam pours out his heart about taking care of a disabled child in Will You Let Him Drink The Wind.

The poetry pieces didn’t quite work for me, except for Sharon Bakar’s Abuses at the end. It’s a strange thing because I do write poetry sometimes. Maybe it’s to do with the style of these pieces or maybe they were meant to be read aloud, rather than in your head.

Overall, Readings from Readings 2: New Writing from Malaysia, Singapore and Beyond was an enjoyable read. I would have finished it in one sitting, except that I had several work deadlines to rush, so I broke it up into a few manageable pieces instead. Which is what anthologies are useful for, aren’t they?

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I read a few of the reviews over at Amazon. Some were good, some were bad and some made me wonder if they even read the same book.
Oh well.
A side note though in relation to some of those: if you're particularly politically correct, you probably won't like most of the pieces in this book. Why? Because it's unashamedly racist in some way or another. And that's a fact of life in Malaysia. Most of the time we accept it, we laugh over it, and we laugh at each other about it. It's typical stereotyping and most of us know that and move on. We find ways to live with each other because we share too many things to argue about the things we disagree about. Half of what we believe to be our "inherited cultures" (be it Chinese, Indian or Malay) we have found to be so different from what is actually practiced in our so-called ancestral lands due to the shared experiences and culture we ourselves have built in this melting-pot that we call home. To edit out the inherent racism in these pieces would be to censor the voice of Malaysians. And that is something we are fighting very hard against.

Sometimes though, someone with some kind of political agenda decides to make a big row over something that half the populace can't be bothered about. And it takes on a life of its own while everyone else goes about scratching their heads. But that's another story for another day.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

A People's Politics

Ok. So I'm pushing out this book review earlier than others because it's a little time sensitive (sorry to Readings, which got pushed back another week).

A People's PoliticsA People's Politics by Keat Peng Goh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The people are the nation. The nation is its people. Its people as a whole must thrive, and be cared for."
For me, this is the heart behind the book.

For someone who is really rather too lazy to think about the political arena and too annoyed to get into debates about it, this was a good read. It relates in easy, understandable language about what politics is, the situation in Malaysia at this point of time, and what we as individuals can do about it.

I would suggest reading this if you are a first time voter, if you really can't understand what all the fuss is about on facebook and twitter and the interwebs, or if you just want to know why you should care instead of just migrating.

View all my reviews

Truthfully... I wouldn't have picked this up of my own volition. It was only because I kind of volunteered to assist Mr Goh in putting up the e-book version on smashwords that I actually even opened it. Thing is... I hate discussing politics because it always ends up in heated discussions and name-calling and dirt-flinging.

It's hard to ever say that this side did something right but the other side also did something right on a case to case basis without being called into question about who you support. The ideology here seems to be that one party is all bad and the other is all good. But they're not. Both sides have good and bad politicians. Both sides have people who say stupid things. (Only one more often than the other.) It's just that one side...

Let's not go into that.

Read the book.

Make an informed vote.

Time is short.

A People's Politics is available in all e-reader formats here, or PDF only here.

Monday 18 February 2013

Youth finding their "It" - Guest post by Raphyel M. Jordan

Continuing on with the Prossia blog tour, let's welcome Raphyel with his post on Youth finding their "It".


In "Prossia," we follow the journey of a girl named Aly, who was simply trying to make it out of her equivalent to high school (she's an alien) one day, and killing in order to survive the next. She learns what I was learning when I started writing the story , just how fast the world can become a madhouse. I've had some readers say the opening parts of my novel feel like a Disney movie that gets ripped with reality without warning, and I intently wrote it in that fashion. Transitioning into a grownup isn't always graceful, casual, or determined for one's convenience or age. So, when the book was published, and I was in need of a marketing campaign, it asked the one question with my ads: "Where were you when you had to grow up?"
The process of growing up is one that must be made alone. Even if people know about the hardship you're enduring, you're the one left with the burden of not knowing how you're going to get through the obstacle. And who's to say you'll only face grownup decisions at the designated age of 18? Many individuals have lost that sense of innocence years before society dubbed them "grown" due to drugs, rape, child abuse, death, and I'd even put excessive bullying in there as well ("kids will be kids" isn't an acceptable excuse).

But alas! There's always the possibility for greatness after the storm. Even though my book's protagonist suffers hardships from every level, we see her face the challenges as best as possible. Sure, she may gripe about it, she'll wish her burden was someone else's, her faith in herself and others will get shaken without mercy, and her entire perception of how wonderful the real world is will come to a devastating end. Even so, Aly presses on because she has a stubborn inner will that refuses to let life defeat her, even when she so desperately needs to just let go and give in.

And that's what inspired me to write "Prossia," seeing that awesome stubbornness and determination in young people firsthand. It seems society has already designated my generation and the one before me for failure. They say we complain too much, and only want what was inherited by the generation that came before us without putting any effort into anything. And while there does seem to be an obnoxiously loud minority of individuals in our age group that have those traits, I know there's more to the leaders of tomorrow. Trust me. I've seen it firsthand.

I saw it when young single mothers were top of the class, knowing what they doing now would lay out a better future for their child. I saw it when I went straight to work after being at school all day, came back to campus around 12:00 am to finish a ceramics project, and other people were in there as well because they had no other time to work on their assignments. I saw it when friends flipped buggers, only making minimum wage, barely able to pay bills, but still finding what little ounce of time to study for their finals. I saw it when all of these young people, when they were all scraping bread crumbs to keep their nostrils over water, have enough strength to tell me that I could do it because they could.

Moreso, I've seen the strength in youth even before the "college years." A 14-year-old boy had to be the man of the house by taking care of his blind mother and two younger siblings. A little girl inspires an entire community to rally around her family so her father can get money for his cancer treatment. A young Muslim girl inspires an entire nation filled with underprivileged women to stand up for their rights to an education when an extremist group tries to silence her with a bullet to the head. If these aren't signs of power, I don't know what is. These people found their "it" factor, and in spite having people look down on them because of their youths, they stood up because they saw no other choice but to do so. If someone didn't do "it," who would?

However, sometimes we need to be reminded that we even that potential for strength and determination, especially when our personal worlds are coming to ruin the way Aly's was in "Prossia." We need to be reminded that it's okay to doubt. It's okay to be unsure. Hey, it's even okay to cry and break when life is at its worst.


And no, your "it" may not be the rallying call that will end world hunger or change governments, but it very well may be the thing that makes a stranger's day a little better. So, find it in knowing that there are other people in similar trenches of life with you, even if they're a continent away. Find it in the faith you have, that has taught you to take life one step at a time with each passing day. Find it in yourself, that amazing stubbornness telling you to press forward even though the facts are telling you it's a waste of time and effort. Trust me. "It" is there. You only need to know where to look. ;)


Raphyel Montez Jordan grew up in a household sensitive to the creative arts. As a child, his hobbies were drawing favorite cartoon and video game characters while making illustrated stories. This passion for art never left and followed him all the way up to his high school and college years.

It wasn’t until college when he underwent a personal “renaissance” of sorts that Jordan took his interest in writing to another level. When he was 19, he started writing a novel for fun, taking inspiration from the constant exposure of different ideas and cultures that college showed him while staying true to the values he grew up to embrace. However, when the “signs of the times” influenced the story and the characters to spawn into universes of their own, he figured he might possibly be on to something.

As he studied graphic design at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, Jordan also used his electives to study sciences like Astronomy, Psychology, and Biology in order enhance the reading experience in his story. He eventually made it a goal to have the story published after he graduated, and dubbed the goal “Operation Prosia,” the very same project that would develop into his first published book, “Prossia.”

Even though his novel is not necessarily a religious book, Jordan utilizes his Christian faith by urging people to encourage, not condemn, in his story. Best known for ending his PSFC newsletters with “Unity Within Diversity,” he hopes “Prossia’s” success will inspire people to consider and support the positive outlook in the difference human kind can share, whether it be race, religion, or any other cultural difference.

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Wednesday 13 February 2013

#bookreview: Prossia by Raphyel M Jordan

ProssiaProssia by Raphyel M. Jordan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Alytchai (Aly) is seventeen and has been drafted to fight a war on a planet she has never been to amongst a people she has never seen against an enemy who would wipe out their entire civilisation. Dealing with teenage hormones whilst trying to focus on the war and their mission, Aly has a harder time at it than her fellow Goolians who can make fireballs of hot plasma out of their hands. On the way she learns to mix with other races - the cheeky Ufrian called Gruago, the imposing Hethroycken, Lord Gurythrus, Lord Juazi of Argutain their team leader and even a Cyogen half-breed, Cyleroa whom she cannot decide if she should trust. And yet, although she doesn’t know it, the biggest danger to them all is herself, for the strength and power that she doesn’t know she has or how to control.

Whilst I was interested enough to finish reading the story, Prossia could have been much better if it had been properly edited to make the scenes and writing tighter and less rambly. As it was, the story meandered its way through from when Aly and her best friend Cattalice (Cat) were first drafted and takes a terribly long time through training and strange mishaps until it reaches the final battle, which wasn’t quite a battle. The book also contained numerous errors, which rather detracted from what would have been a pretty much enjoyable read. Several phrases were also overused, especially “ticking time bomb” (to describe Aly) to the point that it got a little bit annoying.

Another annoying thing was that after all the gradual revelation of who (or what) Aly really was, it was never clearly defined what exactly was wrong with being a Sungstra. Yes, they lacked control of their being, but what was it that so clearly marked them apart? Or, more interestingly, what marked them to be hated or compared with the Cyogens? Was it because the Cyogens too were Sungstren and that somehow made them alike? (It didn’t seem that way).

Also you don’t discover what Prossia actually is until something like the last chapter of the book.
All that said… it was an okay read. The story itself is strong enough on its own to attract you, if only the other things didn’t really detract as much.

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Tuesday 12 February 2013

Prossia by Raphyel M. Jordan (blog tour)

I was invited to join the Prossia blog tour through Masquerade Crew again, and since I don't have to time right now to sit down and hash out posts, I thought I'd just join in the fun with a cover reveal and an excerpt today.

I'll be reviewing the book tomorrow so do check back then. (Also, check out giveaway at the bottom!)


Sunday 10 February 2013

Happy Chinese New Year!

If you haven't made any new year's resolutions, or if you've already broken all of them, this is a good time to start again!

Wishing you a prosperous Chinese New Year!

Monday 4 February 2013

Since Tomorrow by Morgan Nyberg ( a blog tour by @masqcrew)

Since Tomorrow

by Morgan Nyberg

Blog Tour Hosted by
The Masquerade Crew

Sunday 3 February 2013

Fireplace: Reluctantly, you change.

I supposed the biggest problem is that I haven't quite changed my mental image of myself.
You see, I never expected to reach here, despite putting it in my goal setting every year. You had to have a goal to set, right? Didn't mean that you actually saw yourself getting there.

I'd calculated that I wouldn't be here for another 2 years yet. After all, when I first joined they said it takes 8 years. EIGHT YEARS, right? Not six and slightly less than a half. And in my mental image of me, I'd be out of here before then, maybe married (HAH), hopefully working a half day job whilst building a creative arts team in church and writing my novel. I had time to slowly work things out for another year, at least, until I got there.

Things never work out how you imagine it to be. You wish that it would, but life never follows your schedule, especially with God in the mix.

And as everything piles up, it's very easy to think of this as a curse, as if God didn't think I had enough to deal with, contrary to normal expectations that I would be happy. (Ender randomly comes to mind. Not all promotions are good for you, physically and mentally.) Sometimes I wonder if I'm even normal, if the responses I have actually correlate to what the general population would feel. But I've been reminded a couple of times that promotion comes from the Lord so I'm holding on to that - that this year will not be the death of my creative dreams, that this year will not end with defeat before it even starts.

Psalm 65:11 says:
You crown the year with Your goodness, richness overflows wherever You are.
Goodness (NIV says bounty) has overflowed in the past year, as I said in my 2012 year end review, and looking back, I have no idea how I did all of that, except by God's grace. So I'm holding on to that. I'm holding on to His promise that when we walk in His ways, we will be the head and not the tail.

May the latter continually be greater as you walk with Him.