Wednesday, 29 July 2015

#Bookreview: Prophecy's Queen by Timothy Bond

Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy (Prequel to The Triadine Saga)Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy by Timothy Bond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up for free on Amazon, attracted by the fact that 1) it was epic fantasy and 2) the author is currently residing in my hometown!

Prophecy's Queen is a quick read (1 hour based on my kindle) that sets the background for Timothy Bond's Triadine Saga. But that's not telling you anything that you can't already tell from the title of this book. Haha.

There are shades of Eddings in Prophecy's Queen - a prophecy of two paths, one good and one evil, and a promised child (or two, in this case) who is destined to guide the good path in the ultimate destruction of evil; a sorceress who gives up much to aid that path, and who must ultimately give more; the need to hide the children until the time is right; the necessary sacrifices of many to guide and direct the path in oblique ways, without upsetting the balance.
Then again, many of these in their various forms, are time-honoured traditions in epic fantasy classics.

This is going to be one of those rare reviews which will have a split star rating between Amazon and Goodreads. I like it enough to give it an okay, but not enough to really state "I like it". (Isn't Goodreads owned by Amazon now? Can't they just synchronise their rating system?) Also, in terms of my personal rating on my blog, it falls towards a 2 than a 3.

Why is that?
First of all, as I took all that time to say earlier - nothing much new in this one. I understand that it's a prequel, and a novella, so there isn't much time or place to really expand much. But everything that it's setting up for in the coming saga sounds like it's going to be very generic good vs evil, prophecy-fulfilment type fantasy, with elves vs humans vs dwarves or whatever other race until the wizards and sorcerers and whoever else is trying to guide the prophecy manage to get them to work together to defeat the evil sorcerer.

Secondly, this isn't quite Bond's "debut novel" (The Watcher's Keep was published in 2014 and The Dragon Rises earlier in 2015), but in some ways, it feels like it is. Prophecy's Queen starts very abruptly, dragging you into the middle of some unknown quarrel, and then tumbles you about in an overwhelming plethora of "telling" all the while refusing to actually explain anything. Until the very end of the novella, much is said about "the prophecy" and several interpretations of various parts of it are forwarded, but what the prophecy actually says itself is never revealed. [Okay I correct myself - a miniscule part of it was inserted.]

To be fair, I do have this to say - it appears Bond has put a lot of thought into his world building and the history of his world. It may not come across very well in Bond's writing - there is a clunkiness to the way he "disseminates" his information - but it is there in the background. Reading Prophecy's Queen doesn't raise questions of "Why did this happen? It doesn't make sense," but more of "why did I need to know this now?" For example, the chapter on Banderfin and the Dwarvish society as well as the tiella birds served no obvious purpose in this story that I could tell. It felt like a story thread that was forgotten halfway and doesn't resolve. Maybe it would make better sense if I had already read The Triadine Saga.

I guess the error Bond made with this prequel is to try to fit too much unnecessary information to get his readers up to speed instead of following a simple and linear storyline that would pull them in to wanting to know.

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Monday, 27 July 2015

#musicmonday: Fix You by Coldplay

If you had a theme song, I think this would be it. 
You look at the world, head cocked to one side, as if it were a problem to be fixed and it hurts you that you cannot fix it. 
And you look at people with piercing eyes, worrying that they are broken and you cannot do a thing about it. 
But the world is not yours to fix. 
People are not yours to fix.
That burden is not yours and will never be. 

But you try.
And that is enough. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

#bookreview: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ah. So now I've reached the end of the Divergent Trilogy, I have a bit more perspective on everything else. I would safely say that this trilogy probably isn't going to be on my re-read list.
Since I read all 3 books in almost one sitting, the divisions of the 3 separate books are somewhat of a blur (especially since there's little to no time jump between each novel). Hence, I suppose this final review of book 3 of the Divergent Trilogy may include some comments on the earlier two.

Where to start? Hmm....

The extra point of view was a little "ugh" for me, because I tend to skip title chapters and I would have to back track a little when I suddenly go "wait, who's narrating here again?" Probably all my fault. I suppose it was necessary or the ending wouldn't have worked. Hah. You should have thought about that earlier, Ms Roth!

So anyway, now you get a little more insight into Tobias/Four, and it feels very different from where he started off in the first book. I don't know if I should attribute that to character development (or maybe devolvement?), or the fact that very little was known of Four in the beginning which was only revealed gradually in Insurgent and Allegiant, or whether there really was a big disconnect as some other reviewers have been saying. I'm not sure if that whole thing about Tobias' struggle over being "damaged" is really plausible in the light of his fear landscape. There could have been some credibility to it, but it didn't seem to be explained very well.

I don't know who came up with this whole social experiment thing first, but when that revelation came up, the first thing that came to mind was "I watched that on Maze Runner." I don't think I will get round to reading that book because the movie was kind of meh for me, and my book-guzzling friend has written it off as a "Did Not Finish".

I don't think I'll talk much about the science - I don't really know if it's good science or not - but in some ways, it felt like Roth wanted to talk about discrimination and societal disorder, and she didn't want to make it obvious, like race, so she picked something arbitrary. There were some increasingly *almost* preachy moments, which were quickly diffused.

I guess... the ending is not bad as endings go. I bring this up because she got a lot of flak for the ending. I would say that what Tris does is in keeping with Tris' character (i.e. both selfless and stupid at the same time). What Tobias does is probably more in line with PTSD? Which is a valid point, seeing all the stuff he's gone through.
Um the denouement of the cities though - seems a little too simple, but hey, Johanna is Amity.

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Note: I'm not going to be posting up my reviews of Divergent and Insurgent on my blog, but you'll find them on Goodreads!

Monday, 20 July 2015

#musicmonday: Greater by Chris Tomlin

There are some days where a song just sticks in you brain, and then there are weeks where nothing sticks. This is one of those.
But! I figured something Chris Tomlin would be awesome because I grew up listening to and singing his songs! And also because this!

Um. But which song... hmm... Okay. Here's one at random from the latest album, which I do not yet own. :P

Friday, 17 July 2015

#fridayflash: Life

Do not long for a life you cannot live.

Jeanette traced the words with her finger.

Do not. There were so many things she should not do, could not do - this was another. Do not. Another rule. Another barrier. Another shackle.

Do not long. What was it she really yearned for? She didn't know; not truly. She wanted another life. Another way. To be something other than she was. Do not long. She wanted happiness. She wanted love. She wanted out.

Do not long for a life. No. She longed for death. She longed for oblivion, to not have to think, to not have to care, to not have to worry. Do not long for a life. But what else was there to long for? For something other than this.

Do not long for a life you cannot live. There were many lives she admired but she could not live. She was not strong enough, bold enough, enough enough. But those lives called to her, telling her that she could have been something more. Something else. Something other. Do not long for a life you cannot live.

Jeanette closed her eyes. Clenched her fists. Allowed the waves of emotion to wash over her one last time, wrecking her. Then she opened her palms and wiped her face. She took a large, shuddering breath - an attempt to hold back and release at the same time.

Then she opened her eyes and walked into the life she could live. Where love had made a way and opened barriers she never knew existed. Where she could finally be one. Where she didn't have to try to be something she was not.


Writing prompt: "Happy Endings" from The Writer's Tower (June), although it's already July.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

#bookreview: Dream of a City of Ruin by @selahjtaysong

Dream of a City of Ruin (Dreams of QaiMaj, #2)Dream of a City of Ruin by Selah J. Tay-Song
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought that Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern was a really good read. Then, I got distracted by other books, as I usually am. So when I finally got round to picking up this book (the sequel), I went back and re-read my review of the first book to kind of brush up my memory. I probably didn't need to. Tay-Song is a master fisher(wo)man who reels you in so effortlessly, that like a fish on a hook you just go with the flow!

The Icer Queen Stasia of Iskalon finds herself stranded alone in a strange, endless cave, with her enemy, Fire King Dynat of Chraun, as her only companion. She doesn't trust Dynat, but she's not sure if she can trust the foreign Khell tribes who offer them grudging assistance due to their own ancient prophecies. There's so much about this land that she needs to learn in order to survive - and there's so much more that she needs to learn about the history of her own race and her own kingdom in order to be able to figure out how to ensure their continued survival.

Whilst firmly established in the mythical world of QaiMaj, revelling in the magic of T'Jas, this book (and the series so far) touches on several real-world issues as well: race, wealth and privilege, and culture. Tay-Song explores very thoroughly the race relations between Iskaloners, Chraunians and Humans, and how these relations are affected also by the individual cultures of each society. It also looks at privilege, and how sometimes the poor are supposedly given choices and opportunities to work their way up in society, but because they do not have the resources so readily available to those who are already have at least some form of privilege, these opportunities are really a Catch-22.

The interludes that messed me up a little in book 1 start to make sense now as the story starts to pull together so much more. Tay-Song still uses these slightly-disjointed interludes between major sections of the story, but it's not as awkward now as the many different threads in this book starts to get pulled together.

I'll just end this review by saying that I really loved the book and can't wait for book 3! Because, you know, I really want to know how this story ends. :)

* I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
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I reviewed book 1 here!

Also, a guest post from Selah here!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We have two winners!

I apologise. I was supposed to do this when the rafflecopter closed... but I was in the midst of a little um... storm. Which ended up in me finishing the Mallorean in 2 days. But that's another story.

SO ANYWAY, the two winners of the Cyberpunk: Malaysia giveaway are:

Anis Suhaila (Malaysia)


Vijaya Sankar (UK)

(This is also where I admit that I made a weeeeeeee mistake and forgot to put in an entry for you to tell me where you're from, but fortunately, rafflecopter, besides being awesome with generating random winners, also has an option which tells me where you are via your IP address. I am assuming this is accurate. Oh well, live and learn.)

I've sent the winners an email, so check your inboxes and give me your addresses! :D

Monday, 13 July 2015

#MusicMonday: Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon
My King is coming
Robed in righteousness and crowned with love
When I see Him
I shall be made like Him
Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon
I’ll be going
To the place He has prepared for me
There my sin erased
My shame forgotten
Soon and very soon

I will be with the One I love
With unveiled face I’ll see Him
There my soul will be satisfied
Soon and very soon

Soon and very soon
See the procession
The angels and the elders 'round the throne
At His feet I’ll lay 
My crowns, my worship
Soon and very soon

Though I have not seen Him
My heart knows Him well
Jesus Christ the Lamb
The Lord of heaven


Also, 11 days to San Jose.
Soon and very soon. ;)

Friday, 10 July 2015

This is not working out

We are too abrasive together and not in a good way. Not in the way where we fight and we argue and then we see sense and then we make up. Not in the way where we are frenemies and hate each other but cling to each other because we know fundamentally that we are on the same side, heading the same way.


You poke and I flare and words fly and nothing gets resolved. There is too much anger and too much hurt. There is too much frustration. All on my side, I know. Because this is my fault and I am a horrible person. I am immature, I know. I cannot control the suspicions I have against you and I hold you at arms length because I do not trust you and I do not trust what you do or what you say. I find it difficult to work with you or to follow your lead because I do not see that you are leading. You are bullying. You turn every conversation towards you, even when you are supposed to be building us and edifying us. I do not see how you are growing us. Maybe it's my fault. I am already prejudiced against you.

You said God put you there.
I know I am not meant to do this.
So no matter how much you say you need me to take this up, I will not. I cannot. I will not push aside my calling again to serve yours. I will not misalign my focus for you. If this is a limb I need to cut off, I will.

I will bear this burden of irresponsibility if I must. I have said too much and overstepped my bounds and been deemed too harsh because I have cared too much and care, for me, equates to responsibility. This means protecting my people, not burdening them. To give them fair and equal voice, fair and equal choice, not to be summarily told what to do in that bullying way of yours. But I cannot hold so many threads together and I do not have the capacity to care so much, not if it includes you in the picture.

This is not my burden to carry. This is not my responsibility to shoulder.
I need to remove myself from this toxic situation, so this is where it ends.

Or rather, this is where it does not begin.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

#bookreview: KL Noir: Blue

KL NOIR: BlueKL NOIR: Blue by Eeleen Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought the first story, Ballerina in Pink (Roslan Mohd Noor) was pretty okay but nothing spectacular. Also, typos. So the copy I have is the first print, so maybe they fixed this in subsequent prints, but I normally don't expect that many obvious typos in the first story. It IS right in the beginning after all, before your eyes start to cross over and your brain shuts down.

Mamu Vies' Whose Blood Was It, Anyway? was a well-crafted story which I quite enjoyed. This was followed by A Woman in Five Pieces (Karina Bahrin), which was a reprint. Reprint aside, even though it dipped into the paranormal (read: it's a ghost story!) it was interesting and there was a point to it - how to get the ghost of the murdered woman to finally rest in peace.

Actually, 5 out of the 15 stories were originally published elsewhere. Which is a little ridiculous because one of the reasons I bought this book was because a favourite writer friend of mine, Damyanti Ghosh, had a story in it... Only to find out that I've already read her story in Readings from Readings 2: New Writing from Malaysia, Singapore and Beyond. *sigh*

Anyway, so another notable piece was Monster (Xeus) - annoying kid was kidnapped, parents try to get him back. Some delicious justice takes place.

Unwanted Utopia II: Deviant (Joelyn Alexandra) was a rather interesting, futuristic, sci-fi type story, that I would love to see fleshed out into a full novel. It does sound like it's a snippet of something longer.

The thing I didn't like about Bag (Elizabeth Tai) was that first person/third person perspective switch. I think the story would have been stronger if it had all been written in third person. Though that's probably personal preference.

The final story that stood out to me was Zedeck Siew's Hearts in the City. It's one of those slightly mind-twisting stories that I enjoy. Also, slightly fantasy - regret-maggots, anyone?

Okay. So I guess this further concludes the fact that Noir isn't really my thing, though I thought if it was going to be more police procedurals I would like them better than KL NOIR: RED. I mean, I do like murder mysteries (Ian Rankin, Jeffrey Deaver)

So overall... I guess it's okay. Maybe a 2.5-ish?

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Review of KL Noir: Red here.

Monday, 6 July 2015

#MusicMonday: When I think about the Lord

I was busy writing stuff on Medium and wasting time on Facebook and almost forgot about Music Monday!

I had another song in mind initially, but this came on the playlist this morning - so I think I'll keep that other song for next week! :)

The version I was listening to in the car this morning was jazzier - but I couldn't find that version online. The ones I found, where bluesy and a little too sad.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

5 days left on the #cyberpunkmalaysia #giveaway!

Just a quick note to say that you have 5 days left to enter my giveaway for Cyberpunk: Malaysia, so head on over to the GIVEAWAY PAGE to enter. :)

Also, to all my American readers, happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

#bookreview: Hidden Fire by Deirdra Eden

To read my review of book one of the Watchers Series, Knight of Light, click here.

Hidden Fire (The Watchers, #2)Hidden Fire by Deirdra Eden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At 19, Lady Auriella is the Watcher of England and she's beginning to feel like a miserable failure. The newly-crowned King Edward doesn't believe in the Shadows and publicly mocks her position whilst trying to find her a suitable husband. Her world falls further apart when she's sent to assassinate the King of Scotland.

Her journey is fraught with danger - not just from the Shadow Legions and ghosts from the past, but from the strange Watchers she meets on the road and the one handsome Scottish Watcher who keeps trying to steal her heart and her hand.

Hidden Fire is a fascinating read - for younger readers. Personally, I felt that it lacked a little bit of polish and refinement which would have made it a better story. As it was some of the plot "twists" were pretty much predictable. It makes light reading for older teens and adults who are trying to be young.

I received a copy of this e-book from Eden Literary in exchange for an honest review.

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