Wednesday 30 July 2014

#bookreview: Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour

Special Agent Francesca (Undercover FBI)Special Agent Francesca by Mimi Barbour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Special Agent Francesca Donovan can't wait to start her new life as an undercover FBI agent in Las Vegas. All her life, she's been trying to prove herself to her mother, the Special Assistant to the Director of the FBI, and now she gets the chance to do just that - if only she doesn't mess up her first assignment! Other than that, she just has to pop by and introduce herself to the father she just found out she had... and try not to fall in love with her new partner, Sean Collins, Psychiatrist and LVPD Profiler, who's posing as her fiance.

Mimi Barbour takes you on a wild ride with Francesca and Sean as they work undercover to clean up the gang that has been threatening hotels in the neighbourhood. It's pretty light and funny reading, with Francesca's sass and Sean's reactions providing a lot of comic relief. Special Agent Francesca is definitely not a serious girl, so don't expect anything deeper than an entertaining afternoon read.

Parts of story are steamier than I usually read (this is NOT for the kiddies) and there were times I skimmed through thinking "Am I really reading this?" so that contributes a little to my ambivalence between a 3 and 4 star rating.

Also, some strong swearing involved. Just saying, cause this deviates from my usual fare.

I received a free copy for review from the author in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Monday 28 July 2014

Snapshots is back with a new look and a #giveaway. #SnapshotsRelaunch

Welcome to the SNAPSHOTS relaunch blitz!

photo 89b7292a-d6ba-4528-a1e9-04a0147b5b6c.jpg
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Buy on Amazon | Smashwords
It's said the eyes are the windows to the soul, but that's a lie. They are snapshots of a time yet to come–the future of the person to which they belong.

Cyclop Blaine stands out in a crowd with his pale skin and mismatched eyes, but it’s his ability to see the future that really sets him apart. The unusual gift makes him an invaluable asset to Tyler, his adoptive father and leader of the Victory Street Gang. It also means Cyclop must hide what he can do from others. Once, a man he knew only as Master controlled him, using him for experiments. Cyclop has no desire to return to that life.

But he may have no choice. A man claiming ownership over him haunts his dreams and waking moments, leaving him no choice but to go back to the past he thought he had escaped. Cyclop must face this man, along with his past, if he wants to reveal his own future.

About the Author

photo PatriciaLynneAuthorwithbook.jpg
Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Author Blog


Friday 25 July 2014

#fridayflash: The friendless generation

"I have no friends," she whined, as she marked the 30 notifications as read and skimmed through the long list of links and updates in her feed. "Why doesn't anyone want to go out?"
She picked up her mobile phone and stared at it, finger hovering over the dial button of the one friend she was fairly sure might want to go out for a coffee. Oh wait, he's dating Mindy now. He's probably busy. She put the phone back down on the table and scanned through the vapid conversations some of her friends were having in the Whatsapp group. She added a few random comments just to remind them of her existence.
Turning back to her laptop, she opened facebook again and searched through her 2,364 friends, trying to find one who might possibly be physically near her location and also online and maybe willing to hang out. She fired off a few messages only to see them pop offline. She frowned, then decided to ignore the coincidence. A message popped up and she looked at it eagerly:

Sorry, girl. Busy tonight.
Oh, alright. You take care.
See ya.

There went the one person she normally thought she could count on. She sighed and shut down her laptop, put her phone to silent and turned off the light. Her bedside clock blinked 22:30 and she turned it to face the wall so she wouldn't have to see its depressingly early time.
She woke up to 10 messages apologizing for being too busy to hang out, 5 requesting a rain check. She shook her head in despair. "I really have no friends."


Theme: Paradox

Wednesday 23 July 2014

#bookreview: The Ghost Bride by @yangszechoo

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I had to read this because it was written by a Malaysian, right?
I'd heard about The Ghost Bride sometime last year, probably through Goodreads, but was always putting off getting a copy because I'm not really a fan of ghost stories/Chinese superstitions. Then I saw it in a bookshop and I was in a book buying spree... so... *shrug*

Seventeen-year-old Li Lan has received a marriage proposal into the esteemed Lim family. However, there are several complications: The groom is dead, and Li Lan has her heart set on another. Set in both the beautiful bustle of ancient Malacca and the terrifying Plains of the Dead, Yangsze Choo weaves a haunting story of a young girl struggling to save herself and protect her family after she is drawn into unseen world of the afterlife.

The book is split into four parts and I would frankly say that I loved parts 1 and 4 the most. The first part of the book draws you into beautiful Malacca, inviting you into the interesting culture of the Straits settlement Chinese in the 1860s. Part 2 and 3 plunges you into the strange world of the afterlife, and though it was very well written, I didn't enjoy it as much (as I said, I don't really enjoy ghost stories). Part 4 brings you back to Malacca again, and its lovely romantic ending will leave you teary eyed.

Excited to read more from Choo! (I believe her next will be set in Ipoh...)

View all my reviews

Sunday 20 July 2014

I don't suppose I'll be on hiatus, but we'll see

Hello from San Jose!

I haven't decided if I'm going to blog more or blog less. I suppose it depends on my mood at night and whether I'm rushing (or not) to complete anything.

Or if I'm lazy.

I owe my editor stuff.
I owe my pastor stuff.
AND I haven't written a few e-mails I was supposed to write.


And I started a few draft blogs here as well as one on medium.

And I'm supposed to finish that script for Christmas as part of my Camp Nanowrimo challenge (20K words in July)... and I am still at the grand word count of.... ZERO!

*GO ME!*
*waves pompoms*

Thursday 17 July 2014

Happy birthday, @yeohjo!

Where do I even start?
I've known you since... forever. Hah. :) I was going to dig out some old photos, but I figured that *I* would probably be more embarrassed about them than you, so... I'm sticking to (mostly) what's already on the internet. (Also I'm lazy. I can't remember where they're kept and I'm a little disinclined to go search. Besides, that's what Facebook is for.)

You've always been the musical one, so it's not surprising that most of my memories with you include music somewhere - singing Disney ballads after watching the cartoons, caroling, firebrands worship team, youth camp...

... and the fasollado singers!

I am blessed to call you a friend. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend," and I believe I have learnt so much just by growing up with you. Where else would I have learnt to be such a perfectionist? (and competitive as well!) I am always encouraged to hear what God has been doing in your life, even if we only meet like... once in six months or so. Haha.

Okay, that picture wasn't on facebook, but, for memories' sake, that was a big part of our history! (At least before everyone started going their merry ways.) Still waiting for the next one... or at least the next album from you. This year, right? ;)

As you enter a new stage of life, may you find greater fulfilment in Christ; may Christ alone satisfy your every need and deepest longings. May His fire and His passion fill your soul; may your mind and your eyes be renewed each day to think as He does, to see as He sees. May your mouth be filled with endless praise and your heart be filled with ceaseless songs; may you be His instrument of worship as you transcribe the songs of heaven, and raise them up again as incense to His name.  

Thank you for being a significant part of my journey so far. This has been us. :)

Happy 30th, Josh.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Mini #bookreviews

A to Z in 10 by 10 [flash fiction compilation]A to Z in 10 by 10 [flash fiction compilation] by Donna B. McNicol
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this up from Donna during the 2014 A to Z Challenge.
A to Z in 10 by 10 is a quick read - 26 flash fiction pieces arranged from A to Z which will take you less than half an hour to finish.
I enjoyed most of the pieces - some had rather interesting twists.

Half Way HomeHalf Way Home by Hugh Howey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After hearing so much about Hugh Howey, I jumped at the chance to pick up one of his novels when it was offered free on Noisetrade Books for a short period of time.

A little ambivalent about this one. I liked it quite a lot until I got to the end and went... "eh?"

View all my reviews

Wednesday 2 July 2014

#bookreview: The Depths by Nick Thacker

The DepthsThe Depths by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jen Adams' boss, Dr Elias Storm, is killed on the same night that her son Reese is kidnapped. Jen and Mark Adams sneak into Dr Storm's office to look for clues - only to find themselves snatched up by the British Royal Marines, Amphibious Task Division and taken to the Agartha station - an abandoned research station deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

The Depths is pretty much a classic thriller. I read it in (almost) one sitting; it was a very enjoyable read, despite a few errors (well, I think they were errors - swapped names and such which didn't make sense - either that or I was speed reading too much that my brain fried).

I loved the plot-twist towards the end (*jeng jeng jeng, you've all been looking at the wrong person and in the wrong place!) though what Mark did right at the end threw me a bit. I didn't think it was necessary and I'm not sure it made sense, but oh well.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Tuesday 1 July 2014

How many fronts can you have? Of having too many things to update you about

I've been surprisingly productive for a Monday evening, so I thought I'd keep the momentum going by actually blogging something.

On the writing front, I've gotten feedback from my editor for chapters 1 - 6 of my fairy tale (I really should think of a title!) and so I've been doing more edits. I was really afraid she'd hate it, but she likes it so far and most of her comments are in the line of - YOU NEED TO EXPAND THIS/BE MORE DESCRIPTIVE HERE. (I mean, besides fixing my awkward sentences.) I'm just waiting until she gets to the last few chapters and goes "eh, what? End like that one arr?" hahahaha.
Today's the deadline for submissions for the SEA Steampunk thing as well as KL Noir: Yellow and I haven't written anything. Also, I missed the deadline for S+S Penang scripts and probably S+S KL scripts. Meh. Guess it's just not meant to be.

On the editing front, I agreed sometime back to help edit the Charis Hospice 10th year anniversary magazine and I haven't gotten round to it yet. *halp!* I think it's due in August, so I better get my butt in gear, especially seeing that I am such a loyal citizen of Procrasti. =D

On the drama front, we just had a great workshop over the weekend with Shakespeare Demystified. Observation from these drama teachers: when working with Malay actors you have to work hard to get them to cut back; when working with Chinese actors, the main problem is getting them to express more. Hmm... Anyway, this workshop was for those shortlisted for the Hamlet production by USM that's coming up in October ;) Actual roles will apparently only be assigned in August, I think, so we'll see how that goes.
The funny thing about my brain is that when I'm pretty free, it goes into hibernating mode and refuses to think. And now that I'm busy with a lot of work, it decides to wake up and go hey you need to start planning things NOW! So anyway, I kicked my butt into gear this morning and talked to Alvin Looi about the possibility of him running a workshop for our church team this November. So something is starting to move! *little jig*
Ha, random observation while driving this morning: I figure God is just shaking his head at me and heaving huge sighs of frustration because I keep panicking and saying "I don't know what to do/where to go/how to do it" at the same time that I have all these ideas of things to do, but never get round to doing it because I'm uncertain/unsure/afraid/confused/not sure if these people even remember who I am. And it's kind of like *facepalm* where do you think you're getting these ideas from? Why do you think you even know these people in the first place?
Ah, so yes. One step taken today, more to come. And the way to stop the procrastination is really to NOT READ ALL THE BOOKS.

Which leads to the reviewing front, where some lovely random people have contacted me via my facebook page, website and email to give me free books for review! (Also including the awesome Dan Rix who has been letting me gorge on lovely sci-fi/time travel stuff.) *sighs with satisfaction*
That being said, cos I sometimes have a spotty memory, if any of you feel that you've sent me something for review and I never got back to you, please send me an email to bump it to the top of my erratic, neverending TBR list! I know I'm just horrible sometimes and I don't want to feel guilty for taking a free book from you and then forgetting about it.

And finally, on the music front, a song for the week:

You are more thanMy words could ever sayYou are Lord over allOver all of my daysI will see this season throughI will fix my eyes on YouOnly YouOnly You

The God is Able album happened to be one of those that just didn't cut it, for me at least. The songs are exceptionally underwhelming, but for some reason, one line of this song just struck me and has stuck with me all week: I will see this season through. (Partly because I am too lazy to change the CD in my car player so it has been looping in there for quite a while)

In a dual way, it speaks to me of seeing this current season through, of how it feels like it's time to really work at building the creative arts (or as Alvin says it, the performing arts) in the church, but it also somehow speaks of seeing the end of a season, because something has to end before something new can arise. And I've semi-made up my mind after struggling for at least a year (as you can tell it takes forever to move me - I'm coming to understand my pattern) but something has shifted, just as it shifted when I decided to move on from FGA previously. I'm still waiting though - waiting until I am removed from the situation (at least by physical proximity) enough to see if my thoughts clarify further. But as it goes, I think I'm pretty sure. But no, I'm not saying anything now until I am very very sure.

And to conclude, on the travelling front, I will be going to San Jose again in mid-July! It's a business trip to the HQ (which will be just like, meh, boring, hahaha) but I'm looking forward to a couple of things.
First, reconnecting with my cell group over at Ignite/ROLCC, and secondly, the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference! Woohoo!! This will be my maiden writing conference and I'M SO EXCITED. Hahahaha. I am also so noob, I don't know what to expect or prepare. I've registered for the conference and booked my hotel, but I have yet to get my flight tickets from San Jose to Los Angeles!
(Anyone else going?? Anyone have any advice to share?)

Okay. I think that's all the updates I have.