Wednesday 30 September 2015

#bookreview: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint

A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul (Inspector Singh Investigates #2)A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul by Shamini Flint
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the second instalment of Inspector Singh, our overweight, turbaned inspector has been sent to Bali to assist with the investigation of the Bali bombing, despite the fact that he has no experience or expertise in bombings or forensics or even anything remotely connected to terrorism. Then amidst the rubble and the mess of bodies, the skull of one Richard Crouch is found, with an undeniable, unexplainable bullet hole.

Saddled with Bronwyn Taylor, an Australian policewoman similarly excluded from the main bombing investigation, Inspector Singh launches into a full investigation which takes him from dysfunctional, dissolute expatriates to devout Muslims with the assistance of overly friendly Balinese.

I read the first book, A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, quite long ago, and whilst I did enjoy it, I remembered having some reservations about it. I took a little while to get into this book as well, maybe because I was jumping into it fresh from a totally different genre and style of writing. However, as the story progressed and things got even more convoluted, I was totally drawn into the book. I struggled between having things that I needed to do and wanting to know how the story ended.

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I reviewed A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder here!

Monday 28 September 2015

#musicmonday: Burn Like a Star from Rend Collective

We were born for greater things
We were born to chase Your dreams
Come my Lord, awaken holy fire


It has been a Rend Collective week. 
I heartily recommend "The Art of Celebration".

Also, this makes Friday Flash difficult. Hmmm.

Friday 25 September 2015

Here in the Waiting

I was going to write a flash fiction, but I was busy and


Also, Josh wrote a blog post. After something like 5 years. Well, maybe 4.

The challenge of waiting is keeping a heart alive with hope. While it is true that “hope deferred makes the heart sick”, it is also true that “a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” The question I asked myself often in the process of creating this album was: What do I desire? The answer to that question determines what we do in the waiting. It determines what we do while waiting for that promise to be fulfilled, for that sickness to be healed, that spouse to be revealed. More importantly, it affects what do we do with our hearts in the midst of the waiting. How do we posture our hearts so that our waiting is in hopeful expectation and not heart sickness?
Read more here.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

#Bookreview: The Heir's Choice by @MGerrick1

The Heir's Choice (The War of Six Crowns, #2)The Heir's Choice by M. Gerrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually finished this book about 3 weeks ago, and then life happened before I could review it, so I read it again!

The Heir's Choice is the sequel to The Vanished Knight and starts with Callan's insistence on going to meet her grandfather, King Keill of the elves, despite everyone else's warnings and protests that she's making a really bad decision.

There's something of a love quartet going on here - actually kind of like 3 guys going after 1 girl, who really has too many things on her mind to even start worrying about who she might or might not eventually hook up with. Especially when she's being forced to marry the enemy in order to avert a war.

More is also told of James and Ward, Callan's new foster brothers, and their role in the unfolding drama, although it's not quite clear yet what they are capable of.

I do realise I tend to have rosier views of first books in a series and then get a reality check in the next book. But I will say this, I do like this series and hope to continue all the way to its expected end in book 6.

Note:  I received this a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Review of Book 1: The Vanished Knight.

Monday 21 September 2015

#musicmonday: Kau Yang Terelok by @yeohjo

(Mazmur 45)

Hatiku meluap dengan kata-kata indah
Kepada kekasih jiwaku
Kuingin menyampaikan sajakku kepada raja
Kaulah kerinduan hatiku

Inilah segala nyanyian kasihku

Kau yang terelok, kau yang terindah
Di antara anak manusia
Kau yang terelok, kau yang terindah
Yesus Raja

S'perti meterai pada hatiku
S’perti nyala yang ada padaMu
S'perti meterai pada lenganku
Ku mau mengasihiMu

(c) 2015 Joshua Yeoh | JoshuaOneEight Productions

Loosely translated into English:

(Psalm 45)

My heart overflows with a good theme
to the Lover of my soul
I recite my composition concerning the King
You’re the Desire of my Heart

This is my song of love:

You’re the most beautiful, you’re the fairest
of all the sons of men
You’re the most beautiful, you’re the fairest
King Jesus

Like a seal upon my heart, like a seal upon Your arm
Like a seal upon my heart, I long to love You


Also, that was what I was doing Pentecost Sunday this year!
Album is coming soon! :)

Friday 18 September 2015

#fridayflash: Waterfall

It wasn't that she didn't love him any more. It was just that she felt stifled. She'd been looking for stability and she'd found it, but at the same time she hadn't thought that stability meant boring.

"What's happened to us?" she asked him once.
"What? What's wrong?" he replied, barely looking up from his newspaper.
"Let's go do something fun."
"Like what?"
"I don't know."
He gave her a funny look.

It was as if her love had become staid instead of steadfast; the sense of wonder had turned quickly into familiarity, and whilst comfort was good, it wasn't the only thing that mattered to her. Who read newspapers anyway?

So when flowers turned up at her office the next Monday, her heart pounded and fluttered at the same time. The card read "From Your Admirer" and she wasn't sure if that were a good thing or a bad thing. She was sure he'd have put his name if he'd been the one to send them - he wasn't a particularly romantic guy and she was okay with that - but she couldn't think who else would send her flowers for no good reason. It made her feel a little guilty. She decided not to tell him about them.

When a box of her favourite brand of chocolates turned up the next week with the words "Hey, say something" written on a card, she smiled all day. He'd once greeted her with those words for a whole month.

"Did you send them?" she asked him later that day.
"The flowers and the chocolates."
He frowned a little.
"I know it's you."
"What if it's not?"
She hesitated. "Then..."
He turned away.

Fear gripped her heart. Was she losing him? But why should it be her fault if it was someone else who was pursuing her?

She steadied herself. "Then they don't matter. Because I've chosen you."


Based on/inspired by Monday's post.

Which is weird, I suppose because the song is talking about a love that is wild, free, deep and overflowing, but I started off from the other tangent.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

#bookreview: Iban Dream by Golda Mowe

Happy Malaysia Day!
Sept 16, 1963 marks the day that Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined Malaya to form Malaysia. Of course, Singapore was kicked out shortly thereafter...

At any rate, I thought it would be a good day to introduce a novel written by a Sarawakan writer, Golda Mowe.


Iban DreamIban Dream by Golda Mowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Iban Dream is the story of a young Iban boy left to fend for himself after the shaman of his longhouse ordered for him to be cast out because of an evil spirit. Adopted by Tok Anjak, respected leader of the Orang Utan, as a child and claimed by Sengalang Burong, the warpath god, in his adulthood, Bujang Maias must reconcile his peaceful upbringing by the apes with the violence required of him as a warrior and headhunter.

In this fanciful tale, Mowe offers a glimpse into the ancient beliefs of the headhunting Ibans. Legends come to life as Bujang discovers his heritage and his half-forgotten adat (customs) through his conversations with the gods, the spirits, the animals, and the augur of the longhouse that he eventually comes to lead.

Mowe's writing is style is simple, capturing the innocence of Bujang and the rural naïveté of the Ibans as they come into contact with the deceptions and depravity of life outside their jungle for the first time. There is a distinctive sound to the way she writes, as if she is one of the story tellers of old, narrating according to the oral tradition.

I started reading Iban Dream not knowing what to expect. The blurb describes it as "fantasy fiction" drawing on the real beliefs, taboos and terminology of the Ibans in Borneo. The book itself reads like a mix between folktales and mythology. I'm not sure how to wrap my head around that. Because I grew up on a diet of white epic fantasy, with my preference trending towards medieval sword and sorcery, Iban Dream, with its animistic, tribalistic framework was a little jarring - not really what I was (I suppose, subconsciously) expecting.

And I suppose that's the thing. I was looking forward to something more, but did not really get it, hence the low-ish rating of 3 stars. I would have loved to say it was a 4 star book, but it didn't really capture me. Maybe it was the writing style, that folk-lorish thing she did, which while suitable for the book isn't quite my cup of tea. And I know my cup of tea very well.

View all my reviews


Golda Mowe was born and raised in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Fate led her to four undergraduate years in Japan, but contrary to everyone's expectations she ended up spending more time in the History and Social Studies section of the library than in Economics and Commerce. On graduating, she returned to Sarawak but after ten years of lugging files and writing memos her heart began to yearn for childhood evenings spent in the longhouse, sitting in a pool of lamplight, listening to her great-aunt tell tales of jungle animals or her father recount his hunting adventures. In this way she was led back to writing and is now living in Sibu, a town by the Rejang River, where she expends large portions of her time researching ideas for books and short stories, some of which she puts up in

You can pick up Iban Dream here: Kindle | Paperback

Monday 14 September 2015

#musicmonday: Waterfall by Chris Tomlin

The only things I have been listening to the past week is Chris Tomlin's Love Ran Red in my car and Jon Thurlow. As Jon Thurlow's sets (especially the one I've been listening to) often run over an hour, Chris Tomlin makes it to the blog.

Check back on Friday for a Friday Flash! (Assuming I am on time this week. Sorry!)


Also, I will be taking down my flash fiction collection, Stories from A Place to Call Home, from Smashwords, so if you want to grab a copy of it, you should do that before the end of this month.

I put up this collection in September 2012 and over the span of 3 years, it has been downloaded 806 times, which is pretty good for a tiny e-book which I hardly ever promoted. Being free probably helped.
It's had a good run, but at this point of time it's not quite representative of the stuff I'm working on (which is fairy tales and fantasy), so it's time to say goodbye.

I'm working on other stuff to put up so do look out for that!

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Saturday 12 September 2015

#fridayflash: Blame

The should-haves lined his wall like a row of first prize trophies.

He should have studied engineering; after years of studying and practicing medicine, he finally realised what a pain people were and how much he didn't want to help heal them. But his parents had encouraged him, saying there was good money in it. Besides, didn't he want to give back to society?

He should have saved more when he was younger, instead of spending it on expensive cars and expensive clothes and expensive food. The way his retirement fund was looking, he'd have to stay on an additional few years and try to make partner so that he and his wife would have enough to live on. But his wife had wanted it, saying that since he was a doctor, he had to live up to his prestige and his name and show the world what he was earning. Besides, it felt good to feel rich, didn't it?

He really shouldn't have married at all. They hadn't divorced - they didn't believe in it personally - though they lived as separately and as amicably as they could. Maybe if they had had children, they would have something to unite them once again, but there had been no babies. He sometimes tried to think back to what had drawn him to her, trying to figure out why he had pursued her, but all he could think of was that she was a decent enough girl and his parents had been urging for him to settle down and have kids.

He looked back at the mess that his life was in, and all he could think of was that it really wasn't his fault.


This is a day late Malaysian time, but hopefully it's still Friday somewhere in the world (not likely).

My only excuse was that I was working on the short story I'm planning on releasing to mailing list subscribers this month. So... subscribe to my mailing list in that little box on the right! =)


Also, this story is based on/inspired by my Music Monday post!

Wednesday 9 September 2015

#bookreview: Half Worlder by Lee Falin

Half WorlderHalf Worlder by Lee Falin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Half Worlder is another coming of age story written in first person in a glutted market. That fact alone takes away a couple of stars. I'm not a huge fan of first person narratives, but Lee Falin pretty much makes it work okay. At least the asides were useful and interesting in a snarky kind of way.

Kristin Magnuson, the first Earthling selected to serve as a Youth Ambassador ("YA") in over fifty years, is actually only half human - her mother is a Centauri, a race of green-skinned aliens who have natural telepathic abilities. If the stress and awkwardness of being a half-worlder who never quite fit in wasn't enough, her mother is a prominent diplomat, and her father is a famous war hero. Her hoped-for anonymity at the YA training program is dashed when the Senior Trainee assigned to her group apparently decides to hate her on sight, making life on Vespa Prime even more difficult.

Just when she's almost settled in however (okay, 60% or more into the book), she and her friends are taken hostage by space pirates and find themselves embroiled in a crazy interstellar conspiracy.

I suppose I like the way Lee built up the world with the different kinds of unique alien species, each with their specific quirks. The camaraderie between Kristin and her group mates Gabriana, Torvox and Porter are a pleasure to read and feel very realistic. As far as the plot goes, it's okay, but it does feel rather rushed in the end. So much story telling went into the school part of the story and building up the characters, that the should-be-exciting space pirate part seemed a wee bit too short and shallow.

[Why does the book have discussion questions? lol]

I received a free copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Monday 7 September 2015

#musicmonday: Blame by #FazzBand

Discovered over the Merdeka weekend at the Planet Eupe: A Musical Showcase.

Loved the sound, showmanship and energy.

Also, this might be the sound I'm looking for if I can finally decide on that script to work on. Which would throw all existing plans into a loop.


Check them out here and here.

Also, because I enjoy torturing myself, I'm going to try this #musicmonday / #flashfiction combo, where I'll use the song I post on Mondays as the basis of the flash fiction on Friday.

We shall see what happens this Friday! =D

Saturday 5 September 2015

In Memoriam

if glue could hold this family together

He used to sell glue - the kind that came in the little wide-bottomed plastic bottles with the stick fixed to the centre of the screw-on lid to spread it with. The kind that dried up on your fingers and you would spend several minutes carefully peeling off to look at your fingerprints. The kind with that nice glue smell that maybe made you a little high.

like their own words tear it apart
There was paper in his shop as well, the normal kind and the coloured kind for arts and crafts. They came in pink and red and green and blue and were not quite cardboard and not quite paper - some quaint in-between. They were great for random cards made in the middle of the night. Not so great for staying anonymous since they weren't easily found.

if love grew in silent spaces
And maybe that's where her love of stationery grew, on random visits to his stationery shop, few and far between, but filled with paper, glue and love. There was the quiet bustle of people at work, the clack of the calculator, the hum of the air-conditioning and the hiss of a fresh pot brought to boil for tea. And the comfortable silence of people who did not need to fill the empty spaces.

like you fill up a shopping cart

There was the corner coffee shop where he had his breakfast every day until the proprietor knew him and still asked after him years after he had moved away. She wondered if the coffee shop man had seen the obituary in the papers and maybe shed a little tear for a long time customer. Or maybe he too had passed on, contemporaries coming to the end of this temporary life.

then there'd be less whatsapp wars

He didn't like to complain. Why should he, when they weren't listening? Instead he grunted his displeasure, mumbling to himself, but tolerating them anyway, because - he wasn't sure why. Was it because they spoke over him because they loved and worried over him? Was it because he was too tired to argue any more? What were words but finely sharpened daggers?

on who's wrong and who is right

There was nothing left for her to say as she sat by his bedside, watching his belaboured breathing. It wasn't as if she had said much in his lifetime either, that she should say much at his end. But she reached over and held his hand, wondering if his half open eyes knew what he was seeing or if he was already too far gone to know she'd come. 

and maybe we'd hold together long enough

And maybe it was enough, if ever anything could be enough, that she had been present. That she'd allowed them to wash over her with the strength of their emotions, battering the gates she'd long erected in her heart. And as they release their memories into the night she remembered too, fixing in her heart and mind the man he'd been, hoarding what she could before time wrest it away. 

to survive the long dark night

There was joy in the morning - bittersweet but joy nonetheless. There was the ache of a semicolon in an unending line of praise; a pause in the lifespan of a soul. There was the pain of parting, where the physical took its rest and the spirit was released. But there is the laughter of the saints in the moment of reunion, when all that was meets all that is and looks forward to all that is to come. 


Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Wednesday 2 September 2015

#bookreview: The Watcher's Keep by Timothy Bond

The Watcher's Keep (The Triadine Saga, #1)The Watcher's Keep by Timothy Bond
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Watcher's Keep has everything it takes to be a really good epic fantasy novel. A pair of twins thrown into the world to seek their destiny and the future; an evil Wizard-God, his dragon and his henchmen bent on ruling the world opposed by the Guardians, consisting of a Wizard, a woodsman and an assortment of motley characters; dwarves who are emerging into the world of men again, reluctantly; elves who are caught between helping and hindering; and a Prophecy that no one really understands.

I was hoping to like it, despite being a little disappointed with the prequel novella (Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy) because not everyone can do novellas well. Still, it didn't quite meet my expectations. It felt clunky in places, with a lot of info dumps which could probably have been smoothed over with a better editor. In some places, I was a little confused over the timeline as it seemed as if something happened in a chapter prior, and then we headed off to see what was happening with another character, and it wasn't entirely clear if we'd gone back to cover the same few days or we'd moved on sequentially.

There was an overall choppiness to it; the writing was disjointed, rather like some of my first drafts which I never got round to fixing. I'm not writing this series off yet, I think, but I do wish he'd polish it up a bit more first.

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Review of Prophecy's Queen here.