Thursday 30 January 2014

#bookreview: the Everville series by Roy Huff

The First Pillar (Everville, #1)The First Pillar by Roy Huff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Owen Sage has been anticipating his first year at Easton Falls University. What he did not expect was to be drawn into another dimension, where he alone can help save Everville from destruction.

The thing with The First Pillar is that Roy Huff has so much background to tell you that he does it in huge info dumps which often don't seem to fit into the flow of the story.
Add that to the fact that The First Pillar is written in the first person and it feels like this Owen Sage is a huge know-it-all. (He even knows what his friends are thinking and feeling!)

There's a certain lack of polish and awkwardness to the writing, which may appeal to younger, more American audiences. It feels as if there's more to this story, there's more that can be really fleshed out, but Huff didn't bother to expand the scenes. Everything feels short and rushed as if you need to hurtle your way through the book to the end.

The idea behind the book was interesting though, and I would have liked it better if it didn't feel so lacklustre and contrived.

The City of Worms (Everville, #2)The City of Worms by Roy Huff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In City of Worms, the second installment of the Everville series, an epic battle over ownership of the element has begun. Them seeks to subvert the worms and use the power they channel to take control of Everville. The Keeper gathers the other Keepers and different races in the 8 related dimensions around Everville to stop Them. Once again, Owen must work, both with Everville and his friends in the Echo Club, to help save Everville.

In this second book, Huff uses the third person narrative, so the awkwardness of the first-person doesn't arise anymore. However, it still feels as if he is rushing people through the story. The pacing is often awkward, as is the phrasing (especially when he talks about Them) and there are still a gazillion info dumps that don't fit into the flow of the narrative.

The relationship between Owen and his friends feel rather simplistic at times, and it doesn't feel as if there is any proper character development. Each person does and says the things he (or she) is supposed to, but it feels very shallow. I guess it's still a lot of "telling" in the narrative - rather than showing the actions and the deliberations behind those actions, Huff often just tells you why they did it.

The final test at the Second Pillar was just - what? Felt like Huff needed there to be some kind of moral teaching (after all, each pillar has a moral lesson) but I felt it could have been better thought out.

The Rise of Mallory (Everville, #3)The Rise of Mallory by Roy Huff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Since the last battle in Everville, Mallory, a Fron turned evil, plots to hoard all the power from the element for himself by harnessing the goodwill of the newly hatched dragon, Rathlar, and initiating an inter-universe war between the Alarians and the inhabitants Everville. Owen faces his toughest task yet and struggles to complete it even whilst his friends are being decimated by the Alarians.

I think The Rise of Mallory was better written than the first two (maybe because of experience?). A few typos noted - I think he'll probably fix this? Anyway, this could be an early copy since I borrowed it on Kindle Prime (free trial! ha!).

The story is more complex and Huff manages to weave most of the seemingly loose ends from The First Pillar and The City of Worms. However, in usual form, Huff messes up the narrative through excessive info dumps, taking you back and forth over the material a few times. I don't know why he can't do a slow reveal of some of these "secrets" through conversations or over several chapters rather than telling you "this and that" happened in one chapter and then a chapter later someone confirms "yes, it really happened".

There's some time jumps back and forth due to the nature of Owen's task too - and while it was interesting (life as an Alarian!) I felt that it was a little under-developed. I mean, he could have done SO MUCH MORE with it.

At any rate, I think this rates about a 2.5 stars. Hopefully the next one gets better.

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Monday 27 January 2014

Are you on God's agenda or merely faking it?

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold,a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”
He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”
 The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Joshua 5:13-15 
And so that's twice this month that this passage has been quoted, twice that it's been said that the question really is are YOU on God's agenda?

There are times that I believe that I am; where I am absolutely sure that this is my calling, that this is where and when I'm supposed to be, only - nothing's happening yet and I don't know what's supposed to happen. Then there are those times when I think maybe not. Maybe this dream is from me, of me, and it's not where I'm supposed to go.

So I waver on the brink of going and yet not going, of starting and yet still waiting, on knowing and yet not knowing.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

Often my words belie the fact that I really am starting to do something about it. I talk about what will be, I talk about what I hope for, I am cautious about ever saying what I'm doing or what I'm planning to do, and people give me advice, telling me things I already know, telling me to do things I already do. It's annoying, but they don't know any better because I keep my plans close, like secrets, because most days I don't know whether I will be able to push through, or whether I will just flail along the sidewalk and say, "you know what God? I give up. This is just too much for me."

And sometimes, hearing all the great things that God is doing with someone else, or hearing all the great ideas and great things that I should be doing is really depressing. It's like everyone else has a plan, or everyone else has a plan for me. And I'm standing there saying I know what I should be doing. And yet I am not. Why am I not? I am going to. But I am not. Is my calling real? Is it worth it? What does one more show do for the church? What does one more dance do for the people? What does one more event do for the world?

So I question it. I question the hidden passions in my heart. I question because I don't see how it can be life-changing. I don't see how it's as useful. I don't see what the point really is. I don't know if I'm really called.

And yet I do. I just don't know how to put it into words, which is funnily awkward (or awkwardly funny), coming from me.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

And yet, a lot of times, the issue isn't whether God has called you - it's whether you are ready to move with Him. I don't think there will ever be any time when you are 100% sure of what you're doing, or what you're supposed to do. But that's life.

You only hear as much as you're spiritually ready and able to receive - it's not that God is shutting you out. It's often that you are refusing to believe, refusing to understand, refusing to accept, mentally rejecting what God has already declared over your life.

And until you come to that place where you are able to receive that Word that's going to radically revamp your life, that's far as your revelation is going to go. And that's where you're going to stay until you are ready to move and to act.

It's not wrong.
It's not a sin.
But it's just where you're going to be stuck, going through the motions, reliving the restlessness until you push through and realise that that very same restlessness you feel is God telling you it's time to move on.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

I was telling Chi that it's been releasing these few weeks to just receive in church and not worry about what needs to get done in church. But I guess it's not so much of worrying about what needs to get done in church, but the running commentary in my head on why are things like this that often gets me down. And it's nice to just stand in church and not care because I'm not responsible. And to let my heart lead because nobody knows who I am. And there have been confirmations, through the prayer of stranger-friends, that things are coming to pass and to not lose hope. 

I have this odd way of marking certain passages of life through major conferences that I attend. Probably not a very good way to mark things, but there it is. The first one was Hillsong 2002 - out of that, Star of Persia was born. And after college, Hillsong 2006 was set to mark the next significant step - but then nothing happened. Well, technically, a lot of things happened - but not the dream I'd been harbouring, that I'd written out in faith, saying, it will come to pass. And yet, looking back, maybe something significant did happen. I grew in my career. Which is great, really, but not really what I would have originally have thought of as significant, because, you know - it's just what you do every day. But that brought me to this job. Which brought me to take this trip and enabled me to attend Jesus Culture Encounter in Sacramento, and into River of Life Christian Church, at the right time, for the right words. 

And so I'm led to believe that I'm still on God's agenda, though sometimes it feels like I took a detour, as if maybe something went wrong in between - and yet maybe not. Like Joseph spent all those years in jail for no apparent reason, maybe that time 'wasted' was meant to be for something that I cannot yet see. 

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Saturday 25 January 2014

Looking for answers: snippet

Shukri studied the boy who was studying him with wide eyes.
"You're Nadia's little brother, aren't you?" Shukri blew out a puff of smoke into his face.
The boy barely flinched. "Not so little."
"How old are you?"
"Old enough." 
"Hmph. And what do you want?"
"The truth." He folded his arms, staring up at Shukri hungrily.
"About?" Shukri turned his back to the boy, running his finger against the dusty titles on the shelves behind him.
"My abah. You knew him, didn't you?"
Shukri's finger stopped on a thin tome abruptly. 
"He used to come here. I know that. Tell me about him."
"And how do you know that, little boy?" 
"My name is Adam."
Shukri turned to see the boy standing behind him, staring at the book his finger lay on. "Well, Adam, this is a very interesting book," he said with a smile. "I believe it belongs to you." He pulled it off the shelf and wiped it on his sleeve. 
"Me?" Adam took the book from Shukri's hand and turned it over and over.
"Open it."
On the first page was an inscription:
For Adam, when he starts asking questions, as he surely will. Mahatma Tash.
"How did he know?"
"You come from a long line of questioners, Adam Tash," Shukri said, smiling. "I think it's something in your blood."
"Kak Nadia never asks questions."
"Doesn't she?"
Adam thought about that. "Well - she doesn't sound like she's asking questions..."
"But she gets answers all the same, doesn't she? It's a rare skill. Now run along, Adam. Read that book carefully and keep it safe. Don't let anyone know that you have it or what's in it."
"Do you know what contraband is?"
"Well, that's it right in your hands."
"But -"
"You wanted the truth about your father, didn't you?"
"Well, that's it. Now you have it."
Adam bit his lip as he looked at the black, leather-bound book in his hand. It could have been anything, really. A daily planner, a journal, a fancy quran, a classic novel.
"Don't think you're old enough yet?" Shukri asked, holding out his hand.
"I'm ready," Adam said, gripping the book tighter. 
"Good. Come back and see me when you're done reading. Now, I think Nadia's looking for you."
Adam ignored the voice that was calling his name. "How do I know you'll still be here?"
"Don't worry. I will be."
Adam stuffed the book into his backpack. Shouldering the pack, he walked out of the room, turning once to see Shukri still looking at him pensively. Shukri gave a small wave and turned back to his papers. 


Started thinking about my failed 2010 NaNoWriMo novel (which I intended to be a kind of Malaysian dystopian thing), given the level of amusing/annoying things that Malaysian politicians have been saying recently. I was trying to get more background on Adam's father, but somehow I'm not there yet.
Maybe I'll get there in another installment.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

#bookreview: Triton and Entanglement by Dan Rix

TritonTriton by Dan Rix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What was supposed to be a relaxing holiday cruise soon turns into a nightmare when when everyone on board the Cypress suddenly disappears, leaving behind 5 frightened teenagers:

Cedar Edgerly - the overprotective brother.
Brynn Edgerly - the fifteen year old flirt.
Jake Carmelo - the hot young hero.
Naomi Delacruz - the girl who knows (almost) everything about the ship.
Sky Wilkinson - the girl who was taken.

They make an unlikely five, with instant antagonism between Cedar and Jake. And yet, stranded in the middle of the ocean with no one else to turn to, the five must work together to figure out what has happened to everyone else on the ship, and how they are going to survive on their own.

Triton's a pretty entertaining read but not quite a page-turner. Loosely based on a Bible story (part of the premise at least), it's quite a well-crafted story. The twisty mind-bending bit at the end is pretty nifty though, so maybe I'd give this one a 3.5.

EntanglementEntanglement by Dan Rix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I decided to read this because I'd just finished my review copy of Triton and I quite liked it. I'm not even sure when I got this and why. It was just sitting in my computer waiting to be read. (Was it a review copy? A free copy? A giveaway? Or did I buy it and forget about it? Hmmmm)

On his 18th birthday, Aaron Harper will meet his half - his soulmate for life. The thing is - Aaron's clairvoyant channel is scarred and no one knows what that means or what will happen. 29 days before his birthday, Aaron meets and falls in love with Amber Lilian, a mysterious girl who happens to share the same birthday as him. Are they destined to be halves? Or is Clive, Amber's violent boyfriend, really her intended half as he claims to be?

Dan Rix has some good stuff in here. The thing is - he starts off well and draws you into the story, but somewhere about the middle towards the end, it gets a little bit confusing (I felt that about Triton too, but it wasn't as obvious as here). It's not quite about the content/twist to the story that confuses you, but something to do with the way it's written; it suddenly seems to jump about too erratically.

Other than that, Entanglement was quite a decent read.

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Monday 20 January 2014

To the guys who were protesting outside the Sacramento Memorial Hall

It was really strange to hear that there were protesters outside the Sacramento Memorial Hall Saturday night after the Jesus Culture Encounter. Maybe stranger for me because we don't have this kind of thing back home. They were holding placards and stuff and were preaching on the side walk which was even weirder because they were preaching Christ to the Christians.

Anyway, I was listening to these two guys because my friend Ciara had started to engage with one of them, and the other guy started talking to the rest of us looker-ons (watchers? spectators? audience?). I didn't say much at the time because I don't like confrontations and basically I wasn't up to forming much sentences at that time but this morning I was just thinking there's really a lot of stuff I could have said to them, so I guess this is it.

To the guy holding the placard: 
You kept saying that God hates sin and God hates sinners. You kept saying over and over again that you're a sinner, that you're worthless. And you kept saying that grace is good but there is judgement. There are people out there who believe only in grace and forget the judgement. I agree with you. I cannot help but agree with you, except for one thing. 
God does not hate the sinners. He hates the sin, yes. He hates it when we sin, yes. But he does not hate the sinners. Because if he did, Jesus would never have come. You want the Bible to back that up? 
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that WHOEVER believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God loved the world. That means everyone, sinners included (which we all are). It doesn't say so that those who aren't sinners will not perish. It says whoever believes. 
Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Did you read that? While we were still sinners - if that doesn't show how much God loves us sinners, what does? You can't justify that God hates us so much that he died for us, can you?
Most of all, I'd like you to mull over Romans 8 and see how this impacts your view of your relationship with God:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
It doesn't mean we are perfect. It doesn't mean that we don't sin anymore. It doesn't mean that we won't be judged. But what it does mean is that we aren't being judged now for what we have done. It means you can wake up every morning and set your life right with God again, because His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24). And when the judgement does come, we can stand assured that Christ has paid for it on the cross. And if you have been pursuing him, following after Him, you would know that you have been made righteous because of what He has done.

Which leads to the other guy:
Everything you said, I agree with. Thank you for not jumping to conclusions about what was being said in the hall or not (The text was 2 Kings 9:1-10 and Matthew 6:6, since you were wondering) The thing is people speak in stories because that's the easiest way for truth to be disseminated. Jesus spoke in parables. What are parables, but stories?
I thought it pretty cool that that young kid was telling you an illustration we just heard that morning, though I think you got a little confused by the way he was telling it. Maybe the best word I can say to you right now is to maybe not watch what others say so much in trying to catch them out, in trying to prove them wrong, but just to listen to people with a heart of love and let God move you in the right ways.
Sometimes we try so hard to live right that we try to make others live right in our own eyes, we forget what Matthew 7 says - Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. The more we try to call out the faults of our fellow Christians, the more we fall under that judgement as well.
And yes, while everyone could do with a little more solid Bible knowledge and teaching, it doesn't mean that things you feel and experience should be totally discounted as well. Because, you know, everything you feel for the children in Africa is also a feeling, right?

I don't know if they will ever read this. (Probably not). But there, I said it.
If only sometimes my brain would work on the spot.
But I hate arguing, you know. And I could tell that everything I said would have been made into an argument and my brain would have exploded. 

Thursday 16 January 2014

a whiney post about not being able to write. seriously.

I can't write.
I start with a few lines or a paragraph or so and then... nothing.
It's like my brain won't work.
It won't move on, it refuses to think.



I think. I think I need to start focusing. My head's been all over the place since December. The routine's shot since August, not like I had any firm routine... but it's just getting worse and degenerating into a puddle of... of... procrastination and laziness.

The only thing I've been fairly consistent at is writing book reviews. Because I've promised to write them. Oh dear.


Wednesday 15 January 2014

#bookreview: Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna

Songs from the Phenomenal NothingSongs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing is a hauntingly beautiful tale, told in the angsty voice of Tyler Mills, a seventeen-year old guitar prodigy, who has recently lost his mother to cancer. Now that it's just two of them, Tyler finds it even harder than ever to connect with his father, whom he thinks is as uncommunicative and unimaginative as he is creative. When Tyler finds his mother's journals, he discovers a world of beauty, magic and secrets - launching him onto a harrowing journey of self-discovery and reconciliation.

I absolutely loved the voice Steven Luna gave to Tyler Mills - a very vulnerable and broken young man, hiding behind his pride and talent. Reading Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing was truly an phenomenally emotional journey - not too much and overbearing that you feel that Luna is overdoing it, and yet just enough for you to immerse yourself in Mills' world and feel with him. I think that was what made this book for me - being able to just identify, inexplicably, even though I have not gone through any of what Mills did.

I won this book in a giveaway at

Note: some strong language used.

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Monday 13 January 2014

Where did the new year go?

I suppose I was supposed to write a new year's post. It's expected, isn't it? And yet, we're 12 days in and I'm just sitting down to write (Happy birthday, David!) or rather, starting and giving up on writing.

It could have been the distraction of just having come back from Australia.
Or the distraction of New Year's Day. (duh)
And the distraction of having to pack.
And well, now the distraction of um, landing in America for the first time ever.

My manager came up to pick my colleague and me up from the San Francisco Airport yesterday and we swung by the Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge.
And today I visited the River of Life Christian Church for Ignite (the College and Young Adult service) at the cost of a $15 cab ride. Meh. At least I got a ride home =)

And see, that was me being distracted by telling you what I've been doing. Heh.

Maybe I'll just post the song I've been wanting to and forget about the actual post I was trying unsuccessfully to write.
Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

Friday 10 January 2014

#fridayflash: Let me feel you shine

She was staring off into the distance.
He cocked his head to the right, studying her features in the dim light, trying to remember when they'd stopped talking and why. It felt as if a silence had just descended over them, turning them to petrified humans, left to sit at the mamak for eternity. 
"It doesn't quite work that way," she said, startling him. "It's darker than that. Deeper than that."
"What do you mean?"
"It's like I'm falling into a black hole. An endless black hole. It's just falling, forever and ever and ever. I don't stop. My stomach's knotted up. I don't know if my eyes are open or close because I can't see anything. I can't ever see anything. Then I wake up."
"What do you do when you wake up?"
A half-smile wavered on her face. "I stop falling."
He tried to make out if she was teasing him, but he couldn't tell. She was staring into the depths of her tea, stirring the ice around with her straw. He couldn't quite recall how they got into this conversation - it was just one of those things that had happened.
"What do you do about it?"
She looked up at him. "What can I do about it?"
He paused, holding the words in his head, waiting for her to continue. Instead, she looked back down at her drink. "Have you tried praying about it?"
She sighed. "To what end? It's just a dream. Why would God care about something like that?"
"Because it's a recurring dream. Because you're losing sleep over it. What if... what if it's a vision or something?"
"What - I'm having visions that I'm falling into a black pit? Because that makes so much sense, you know."
"You don't have to roll your eyes at me."
"You don't have to be so holy about everything."
"I'm not trying to - " he broke off exasperatedly. "Look, you asked a question, I answered it the best I know how." He could see the lines on her face, the dark circles around her eyes.
She breathed out heavily. "I'm just so tired. I wish I could stop falling."

Wednesday 8 January 2014

#bookreview: The Soul of the World by Joshua Silverman

The Soul of the World (Legends of Amun Ra, #2)The Soul of the World by Joshua Silverman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Soul of the World picks up two years after the events in The Emerald Tablet. Leoros is stuck on earth, trying to get back to Potara and at the same time convince everyone that he is not insane. Kem rules Potara with Shirin by his side and have declared both Atlantia and Dio traitors. Atlantia still searches for the elusive Leukos. Dio is a depressed drunk and Axios is caught up in the resistance. Then the Brotherhood of the Black Rose enter the scene, offering Kem immortality, and the stakes are raised.

The Soul of the World is a much tighter and smoother read than The Emerald Tablet, though it still has its issues, one of which was the never ending rerun of Dio's drunken episodes. Whilst it was gratifying to see the characters grow from the beginning of the book to the end, I personally felt there were one too many Dio-drunk and Leoros-depressed/emo scenes for me, especially since they seemed to ramble on about the exact same issue over and over again.

And then, as he did to me in Gardens of Ampheia*, he ended abruptly, in something of a cliff hanger. Well, maybe not as big a cliff hanger, but still an incomplete story arch, unlike the neat-ish ending we had with The Emerald Tablet. I suppose that's a given with middle books of trilogies? (Let's not forget Orson Scott Card did that in Earth Afire too.)

I guess we'll have to wait for the The Island of Shadows to see what happens. I'm expecting good things of it.

*Aside: While we're talking about this - check out Gardens of Ampheia. I'd say this is Joshua Silverman's best yet

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Emerald Tablet was reviewed in this post and Gardens of Ampheia was reviewed here.

Thursday 2 January 2014

2013: a year in review

I suppose I need to wrap up the year somehow.

Work life
A major milestone of the year, I suppose, would be that I completed 7 years with KPMG... and left. (Read my farewell post here.) Clearing off the backlog and cleaning up the table was an accomplishment in itself!

A feat only accomplished once in a lifetime...
Writing life

It's nice to close the year with a new book on the shelves and to know it's been doing quite well, all on its own. Okay, I shouldn't say "new book" as if I've been doing this regularly - Love in Penang is the first book I've published with Fixi Novo. If you count my self-published ebook Stories from A Place to Call Home from 2012, this is my second book released to the world!

Had a lovely surprise walking into Borders in Queensbay Mall last night and seeing it placed at number 8 on the list of top 10 fiction.
Based on Kinokuniya's weekly bestseller list (see pic on the left), Love in Penang is ranked at number 2 for the week. I don't know how long it's going to stay there but I hope it hangs on for a long while!

If you need a little help deciding on whether to get this (it's only RM19.90!) read these really lovely reviews from one of our writers, Fadz:
The generic version
The detailed version

Obligatory self promotion: You can buy Love in Penang from Fixi, Kinokuniya, MPH and Amazon.

If you've already read it, could you be so lovely as to write a review and post it on MPH, Amazon and Goodreads?

Other stuff that featured in my writing life was a rather dismal A to Z challenge offering as compared to a shiny new rather confused novel during Nanowrimo.

Blog life
I've become a little more inconsistent in blogging, what with work life and writing life going all sorts of ways, but it still amazes me that people. actually. read. my. blog.

Look at those numbers! There was a high of 7,561 views in May - how did THAT happen? The screen shot below is last year's statistics for comparison (post here).

Looking through my posts, it seems that I did more book review/tour posts than anything else in 2013. Number of posts have dropped from 134 in 2012 to 125 in 2013. I'm not sure why. Probably because I was so busy/distracted/confused. I think I should start blogging more regularly about more regular stuff, if that makes any sense.

Other stuff
I suppose if you're on facebook, you could look at my year in review there as well.
I had a great year-end trip to Melbourne and Tasmania (which was why I blogged less as well) and I'm still recovering from post-trip blues, trying to catch up with all the stuff I missed back here in Penang as well as trying to get ready for the new year.

I was probably a lot more organised in last year's posts... but well... I don't think I had so many year end events. Or at least I don't remember that I did.

Anyway, happy 2014!