Friday, 26 June 2015

Lunch time poetry

My heart isn't here anymore
She said
I drift
Unanchored to reality
Untethered to this life
My heart
Tastes the sweetness of
A song I never wrote
Of a poem I never read
A line I can't grasp
The meaning of
Slips
Slips away
But I was never here
She said
My heart isn't here anymore

Maybe it never was

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

#bookreview: The Children of Darkness by David Litwack

The Children of Darkness (Book #1)The Children of Darkness by David Litwack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if all that you have ever been taught as good and right, the light that you've been taught to appreciate turns out to be the hand of darkness that has been holding you down?

When Nathaniel Rush of Little Pond discovers that the vicars of the Light have things to hide - things that may change his understanding of the world - he has to decide if he should run away from this knowledge, fitting back into the normalcy of life he has always known, or if he should pursue it, like in his dreams of being a knight and hero.
Along for the adventure is Orah Weber, the girl he would give up his freedom for, and Thomas Bradford, the doubter, the one already broken by the Light. They must find the hidden keep, preserved for centuries by the keepers, so that the truth and knowledge of the past ages and civilizations won't be lost to the world.

Litwack's writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you flip (or click) the pages of this book. That's not to say that the other characters are not well fleshed out as well - they are. You feel for the painful history between Nathaniel's father and Orah's mother, and at times you are even drawn to understand the arch vicar, who seeks the keep for reasons of his own.

The Children of Darkness was originally published as There Comes a Prophet, and has been re-edited, expanded, and re-released with a new publisher in line with its rebranding as book one of the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers. Because I'm not exactly one who remembers minute details of a book I read 2 years ago, I can't tell you exactly what has changed during my re-read - but I would say that the pace has slowed a little, with snippets of Orah's thoughts coming to the fore, pushing her forward as a stronger driver of the story than before.

I received this ebook copy for review as part of a Novel Publicity tour.

View all my reviews

“A fresh perspective on our own society...[an]  enjoyable read that will make you wonder just how society will judge us in the future.”  Lexie

2

About the Author:

David Front PageThe urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.

After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Website: www.davidlitwack.com
Facebook: David Litwack - Author 
Twitter: @DavidLitwack

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Reviews!
“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction Fervor

The Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois 

“This is a satisfying exploration of three teens' journey into the unknown, and the struggles faced by all who seek true emancipation - both for themselves, and for the people they love.” Suzy Wilson

“Litwack's writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you frantically flip (or click) the pages of this book.” Anna Tan

“...many profound themes, lovely characterizations and relationships” R. Campbell

“I was enthralled and intrigued by the authors creation of this society... David Litwack has an enjoyable and captivating writing style.” Jill Marie

“...a perfect story for young adult readers, but its underlying theme and character development will keep any adult engaged.” Kathleen Sullivan

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Speculative Literary Fiction - a #guestpost by @DavidLitwack

It's finally here! Children of Darkness - Book One in The Seekers Series is available NOW. Check it out on Amazon.com. FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. GET YOUR COPY
“A must-read page turner.” Kirkus Review

About the Book:

The Children of Darkness - CoverThe Children of Darkness
The Children of Darkness is about a society devoid of technology, the result of an overreaction to a distant past where progress had overtaken humanity and led to social collapse. The solution—an enforced return to a simpler time. But Children is also a coming of age story, a tale of three friends and their loyalty to each other as they struggle to confront a world gone awry. Each searches for the courage to fight the limits imposed by their leaders, along the way discovering their unique talents and purpose in life.
"If the whole world falls into a Dark Age, which it could plausibly do, who could bring us out of it? According to David Litwack in The Children of Darkness, the only answer is us, now, somehow reaching into the future." - Kaben Nanlohy for On Starships And Dragonwings
Publication Date: June 22, 2015 from Evolved Publishing 

Purchase Link: http://smarturl.it/Seekers1 FREE WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23485495-the-children-of-darkness

Speculative Literary Fiction



Someone recently asked me why I use the term “speculative literary fiction” to describe the genre of my novels. While both terms are used frequently on their own, they are not often paired together.

Speculative fiction is a term coined by Margaret Atwood in an effort to avoid the hard-core sci-fi label (she said she needed a category that meant sci-fi without Martians). It has been used to describe a number of sub genres—space opera, techno-thrillers, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, even fantasy—basically anything that is not “real world.” The key to speculative fiction is the what-if aspect. What if the world as we know it was different in one or more ways? While this what-if, alternate history/alternate world approach can be used to explore future technology or just spin a good yarn, it also enables an author to focus on some theme by altering an aspect of the world as we know it.

Literary fiction is usually understood to mean quality writing, deeper characters and an exploration of universal themes.

So why combine the two? The primary purpose of declaring a genre is to set the expectation of the prospective reader. Using the term speculative fiction by itself can misrepresent a book. Readers might expect Star Wars or the Zombie Apocalypse, or an emphasis on some hypothetical technology such as faster than light spaceships or time travel. Literary fiction tends to imply real world, such as The Help or The Secret Life of Bees.

Many great books have speculative premises, but are literary in nature. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a good example, or the works of Ursula LeGuin. Even a novel like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road might fit. While it’s certainly post-apocalyptic–we find out little about the cataclysm that brought about the current state–the author dwells on the relationship between the man and the boy, and the power of love. Another example might be Never Let Me go by Kazuo Ishiguro. While the what-if of this world is the use of cloning to grow organs, it’s told from the viewpoint of the clones, and shows much more about relationships and the human condition than about technology.

I use speculative literary fiction as a term to distinguish alternate history or alternate worlds, where the emphasis is not on whiz-bang technology, aliens, space travel or the like, but more on deeper characters and universal themes, brought to the fore by the unique difference in the imagined society or world.

About the Author:

David Front Page
The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.
Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.
After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers.
David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Website: www.davidlitwack.com 
Facebook: David Litwack - Author 
Twitter: @DavidLitwack

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Reviews!

“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction Fervor
 “The Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois 
“This is a satisfying exploration of three teens' journey into the unknown, and the struggles faced by all who seek true emancipation - both for themselves, and for the people they love.” Suzy Wilson
“Litwack's writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you frantically flip (or click) the pages of this book.” Anna Tan
 “...many profound themes, lovely characterizations and relationships” R. Campbell
 “I was enthralled and intrigued by the authors creation of this society... David Litwack has an enjoyable and captivating writing style.” Jill Marie
 “...a perfect story for young adult readers, but its underlying theme and character development will keep any adult engaged.” Kathleen Sullivan

Monday, 22 June 2015

#MusicMonday: Long Way Home by Bebo Norman


So I will, I will not give up this fight
I will not lay down and die
I will not carry this heart of stone
I may not be your place to run
I may not be your kingdom come
I may stumble through this great unknown
But I will be all that is true
I will not give up on you
I was made to be with you alone
'Cause you and me, we get to see
The long way home

----

I've been on a bit of a nostalgia trip ever since I drove down to KL for the book launch. I dug up the old CD bags and put them in the car for the trip, and I've been listening to Bebo Norman since Monday! It's been years.

(And funnily enough, I remember most of the lyrics, and the harmonies. Because I sing too much in the car.)

I also like this song because of how unromantically romantic it is.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy Father's Day!

This Father's Day, you get to take an English test! LOL
(courtesy of grammarly.com/grammar-check)

Friday, 19 June 2015

I'm running a #giveaway for #cyberpunkmalaysia

So if you've been following my facebook page and my blog and my twitter and my website and all the social media-ly stuff I do, you can't have missed the fact that Fixi Novo recently published a book with my short story in it. =)

The launch was last week as part of the Cooler Lumpur Fest, and because I am scatterbrained like that, I'm finally getting round to announcing my giveaway today. LOL.

Anyway, first things first.




WHERE TO FIND THE BOOK AH?

Online:
Kakibuku
E-sentral
Smashwords
Google Play
Amazon

Physical stores:
Kedai Fixi / Lot4.35-36, Level 4, Jaya Shopping Centre, Jalan 14/17, Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya
MPH
Borders
Kinokuniya

Note: apparently the print books won't reach physical stores until the end of June! Except for Kedai Fixi, of course.

SO WHAT'S THIS BOOK ABOUT?

To quote:
Cyberpunk as you've never seen it before…
Science fiction is all about outrageous ideas. Nice Malay girls breaking the rules. Censorship. Brain drain. Moral policing. Migrant exploitation. All the stuff of fiction, obviously.
But these 14 short stories take it one step further. The nice Malay girls are cyborgs. The spambots are people. The brains have drained into cyberspace, and the censorship is inside your head.
Welcome to CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA.
Okay, okay, so back to the giveaway....

HEAD OVER TO MY WEBSITE FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

because my website needs more love. :)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

#bookreview: Grace by Morris Gleitzman

GraceGrace by Morris Gleitzman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mookie once asked me if there were books or movies that made me cry.
I have to admit to tearing up once or twice for this one.

Written in a somewhat awkward childish parody of the Bible, Grace tells her story of how her father got expelled from the "church" mainly because of her. "Church" because this is obviously a very small, secret, cult, which believes in very weird stuff. Why was he expelled? Because he asked too many questions, and obviously led her astray because she asked questions, talked to Outsiders, and couldn't ever keep her hair in a neat bun (amongst other things).

It tells a common story of abuse and manipulation, and how some religious authorities stay in power by fear, threats and lies. And how difficult it is to get out - or admit that you want to get out - because of the brainwashing, and also because it's difficult to be cut adrift from everything you know and have grown up with. And you always hope that things will get better.

View all my reviews

Monday, 15 June 2015

#MusicMonday: Shekinah Glory


This song was in the camp list, but not in the night's set. But I'd dropped one song because it wasn't familiar enough, and then we discovered that we didn't have the chords for another, although Daniel was very sure he had printed it. There were a bunch of other good songs to use, but I'd been thinking of this one since the morning, for some odd reason, so in it went.

And God showed up.
"Shekinah is derived from the Hebrew verb שכן. The Semitic root means literally to settle, inhabit, or dwell. The abstract noun is unattested in the Tanakh, and is first encountered in rabbinical writings.
"... in classic Jewish thought, the Shekinah refers to a dwelling or settling in a special sense, a dwelling or settling of Divine Presence,[2] to the effect that, while in proximity to the Shekinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable.
The concept is similar to that in the Gospel of Matthew 18:20:
Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in their midst.[1]
Some Christian theologians have connected the concept of Shekinah to the Greek term "Parousia", "presence" or "arrival," which is used in the New Testament in a similar way for "Divine Presence".[3]"
And because I'd been reading Exodus, this came to mind:
18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”
19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
21 Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;
22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.
23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 33:18-23
And though this is much more commentary than needed for a song with very few lyrics, it's important to remember that when the glory of God comes, it's not just a pretty thing. It's not just looking for "gold dust" or laughter or tears or being "slain". And yet it's precisely those outward things that we often end up looking for.

I don't think we truly understand what we mean when we sing this song. I don't know if they really understood what it means when they wrote this song. We don't fully comprehend what we are asking for. We see through a mirror, darkly, and sometimes we recognise Him, but sometimes we don't. And that's okay.

Yet it is important that we ask; that we seek - because God desires that we pursue Him.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

#bookreview: Lost in Putrajaya

Lost in PutrajayaLost in Putrajaya by Zurairi A R
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I generally liked this. Some of the stories were stronger than others (it really slumped in the middle), but I guess that's how it goes.

Drifting Azaleas (Paul Gnanaselvam) is an amusing account of Saras' application for Malaysian citizenship and her struggling attempt to speak in Malay. I thought this was a rather promising start to the anthology.
Listen to Your Grandmother (Jeannette Goon) is a story of an abused wife. The only connection it seems to have to Putrajaya is that Violet works there.
Back to visa applicatoins, Green Onions (Marc De Faoite) is Marc's hilarious account of applying for a Spouse Visa. I love the Malaysian voice that Marc has gained in this story.
Lost Toy (Claudia Skyler Foong) was a rather sweet story about a day out with Daddy - looking for a lost toy. Midway through I kind of suspected the ending, but it was sweet nonetheless. I don't know if kids are that smart at six, but maybe they are.
In Summer (Adriana Nordin Manan), Kimberly's summer plans of working with Prof Elkinson at the University of Chicago was dashed when she was unexpectedly called home to work with the government as part of her JPA scholarship. It was okay as a summer story, though I don't really know if there was a point to it. Also, I've never heard of the fact that you can't register a Western name if you're not a Christian. And the ratio of 1:2? What?
The Wedding Bet (Anuar Shah) was a pointless, sex-filled story. Did not like.
Blue Jeans (Eileen Lian) was also kind of meh. I mean, it was kind of heart-warming, but not really enough? Actually, the format was a little like one of those "saya sebatang pen" stories from primary school where you start talking about the life of some object and where it ended up.
I didn't really enjoy Bunian Diaspora (Alistair Yong) either. A combination of not really my style and ugh, spirit stories.
The Signs of the End Times (Hadi M Nor) - blatant sedition. Hah. It did reek a little of "trying too hard".
Broken Kaleidoscope (Timothy Nakayama) brought the book back to a better place. Alex is stuck in the rat race, losing his way, his girlfriend, and almost losing his life. I'm not sure if the jumping back and forth over time actually adds anything to the story, but it's a good enough read.
In Lost Highway (Marco Ferrarese), Santiago tries to hitchhike from Puchong to Singapore, only to find himself stranded in the middle of Putrajaya, in the middle of something that's not likely to be good for his health.
I think The Ministry of Sun and Storms (Terence Toh) is the best story in this book. It's delightfully funny and has a proper story arch and satisfying conclusion. If this were a stand-alone story, I'd probably rate it a 5/5. Then again, I'm probably biased. I like almost every story Terence posts on FB. Also it's fantasy :D So basically, Fairuz finds out there is a Ministry of Sun and Storms, which is an unofficial Night Ministry of the government, which uses bomohs to control the weather. With a stack of application forms and a nice girl in the ministry who does him favours, Fairuz is set to make a killing by selling weather services.
Sangsalibut (Nizam Shadan) - random genie story which I found a little meh.
I'm rather ambivalent about Mosquito Heart (William Tham Wai Liang) too. It started off really well but the ending was a little... random. Maybe what I really didn't like about it was that it seemed to want to talk about weightier things (like elections, sedition, unfair persecution), but settled instead to follow an albeitly already introduced theme on a death threat and random stalker.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Book Launch: Cyberpunk: Malaysia

If you don't already know, my short story "Codes" will be published in an anthology called "Cyberpunk: Malaysia".

The book will be launched in Kuala Lumpur this Saturday! See you there!


Also, I'm working on a giveaway! Details coming soon. :)

Facebook event | Cooler Lumpur Programme

Monday, 8 June 2015

Hidden Fire Blog Tour and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Hidden Fire Blog Tour and $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway



Finding your own unique strength and courage is a major theme of The Watchers. The characters in this series are as diverse as they come: different nationalities, male, female, dwarf, human, dragon, pixie, noble, peasant orphan, young, aged. Yet, no matter the situation, whether tragic or triumphant, they find ways to grow and develop into something stronger. 

The main character, Auriella (Aura), is born and lives in a society and time when girls, especially of her social status, didn't have opportunities for education or growth, let alone a chance to be a hero. The Watchers must learn to work together, despite differences, to defeat Erebus and the Shadow Legion, just as we, no matter our gender, race, age, circumstances, etc., are capable of great things. 

Strong men and women grow in all situations and become heroes when one is needed. They don't think about it, they just do what's right. 
-Deirdra Eden, author of The Watchers Series

Book Summary
Auriella’s new life as a royal protector is in shambles. The new king ignores her warnings of a Shadow Legion invasion and he is determined to marry her off. Ghosts from her past, the discovery of other Watchers, and a handsome Scottish warrior throw her off guard and weaken her emotional defenses. Caught in a web of secrecy and betrayal, Auriella struggles to control and protect the devastating power of Starfire. A terrible truth and a fateful choice will lead her to her destiny as the fabled Lady of Neviah, or could shroud the entire world in eternal darkness. 

Filled with action, romance, drama, and comedy, Hidden Fire is an addicting read that you won't want to put down. 

“Deirdra Eden has surpassed her earlier achievement in this daring tale of struggle between good and evil forces that exist in every universe.” Mark F. Cheney, author of MARK OF THE JAGUAR 

“Thought provoking and full of action, I didn’t want to put the book down! I really loved the symbolism and it was a fantastic read.” Mary G. – age 15


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

#bookreview: Memory House by @BetteLeeCrosby

Memory HouseMemory House by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Annie Cross is running away from her bad memories of her ex-boyfriend, Michael, and looking for a new direction in life. Ophelia Browne is searching for someone to inherit her memories and her house. In her signature style, Crosby weaves these two very separate lives into a single story, with each chapter prefaced by the thoughts/journal of the main protagonists.

Crosby retains her charming Southern voice in Memory House and it was a pleasure to get sucked into the story. I enjoyed Memory House more than the other Crosby works I've read so far (Passing Through Perfect; Spare Change) probably because it felt a little more current and relatable to me.

It was also pretty amusing and nice to find references to the earlier books in Memory House, hidden as they are like gems to be found.

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Monday, 1 June 2015

#musicmonday: Only One by Harvest Bashta



So come back, come back
I'll take you to the start
Come back, come back
I'll take you to your first love

“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord."
Hosea 2:16-20