Monday 29 February 2016

#musicmonday: The Light Will Come | Phil Wickam

It's funny how a song grows on you, creeping from ambivalence into a kind of obsession.

But here is courage to face your fears - look, the light has come. 

Friday 26 February 2016

#fridayflash: skin

I wear his righteousness like a wetsuit; slick, tight, a second skin. It keeps me warm; human.

When I forget, I am cold; frigid and fierce, ice storms, blizzards. Angry. Hungry.

I should remember always, keeping him close, remembering what it means to be alive.

Forgetting the death in me.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

#bookreview: Tales from High Hallack, Vol 1

Tales From High Hallack, Volume 1: The Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton, Volume 1Tales From High Hallack, Volume 1: The Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton, Volume 1 by Andre Norton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd heard so much about Andre Norton that I was so excited to get a copy of this to read through Edelweiss. I know, it was released like eons ago, but hey, if they're still offering review copies, I should take it, right?

And then I realised that to actually understand a full half of these stories as they should be properly understood, you should already be familiar with all of Norton's other writings. Because when you jump into a collection of stories from High Hallack without any idea what High Hallack actually is all you get is extremely confused. I liked better the folktale retellings than the actual spec fic I was expecting, probably because I didn't have to think so hard about what she was trying to say.

Overall, a couple of general notes before I get to the specifics of the stories -
1) You'd probably like it better if you like older-style writing. Sorry, but I gave up reading classics for a reason, most of all because I'm a lazy modern reader. It's like wading through Tolkien again after you've been reading Hobb for a while. (The story is still good, but UGH you have to think so much)
2) This was an unproofed ARC uploaded to Edelweiss way back, so there were like a gazillion typos; hopefully this was fixed in the actual release.

Briefly, the ones I really liked were:
- The Gifts of Asti
- The Dowry of the Rag Picker's Daughter
- All Cats Are Gray
- Black Irish
- Through the Needle's Eye
- The Toymaker's Snuffbox
- Dream Smith

View all my reviews


Still not too late to grab an ARC and help host Coexist ;)

Sunday 21 February 2016

On missing the pizza for the mushroom

When you think about it, all you're having is really a food tantrum; a spiritual food tantrum, if you will. You're the kid at the buffet who's decided that the only thing you want to eat is spaghetti when there's also roast chicken and fried fish as mains, besides chocolate cake, fondue and ice cream for dessert, but no, you've decided that spaghetti is important and you're upset because it's not filling enough nor is it what you expected it to be.

But you know you're a self-feeding adult - well, at minimum a teenager - and you can find your own meals if you need to, but you aren't, because you're in a tantrum and you can't see the rest of the pizza for stressing over the stupid mushroom that you hate. Because underneath it - underneath it is that old scar, isn't it? It's that bleeding wound that says I'm tired of always giving and never receiving. I'm tired of being mature, of being wiser, of having to be nice. I'm tired of having to put others first because that is what good, Christian girls do. I'm tired of never getting attention or care because I'm supposed to be okay. I'm supposed to know how to get it right.

So you refuse to be responsible because there comes a time you deem self-care as more important than care of the community and love towards people. You want him to fail because you want him to own up to pushing responsibility on others all this while; you don't want it to fail because it has been everything you've cared about for a long time. And you hate yourself because you know you're being selfish and immature and you know you can't go on hating people even as you also know you cannot stand working with them anymore. You've reached your enough, but you cannot let go because this is not what it should be. Thus the conundrum: do you keep at it, getting more stressed by the week, or do you let it go and hope that everything doesn't fall apart?

And you let go because you should. Or, at least, you think you should. You know it's a tantrum because you are afraid. Because things are changing and you hate change. And you need to let go but you can't, so you make a storm in a teacup to assuage yourself and to calm your nerves because everything is too much but too little.

Yet behind it all, you remember: you don't have to rely on anyone to feed you.

You've been waiting for someone to lead you, when all along, you could have led yourself. And you should have. but you haven't.


On the other hand, community matters. 
But how much does it matter - to you - anyway?


So you weigh the line between feeling used and being entitled and you don't really know where one ends and the other begins, because you feel that you've been used, and you think you're entitled to - to what? You're not quite sure either - but at the same time you know that this isn't what leadership or servanthood is about.

You know that the institution has failed you, as all institutions do, and it's funny because you've said often enough that you don't believe in church, the institution, anymore and yet here you are, still railing against it. But it's difficult to search out Church, the Family, on its own, because it's all tied up in the institution and it's hard to separate something so closely intertwined.

Yet you must.

And really, what it means is that you've lost sight of what really matters. Because your eyes are too blinded to see the truth: that as much as it seems to be about him, it's more about how you deal with him and those like him.

That's not even the main thing.

The main thing is that you've lost sight of the cross. You've lost sight of the sacrifice that makes any of this worth contemplating. And true, whilst your community holds a burden of mutual care, your care doesn't depend on you and you alone either. It's not them or you. It's not just giving or just taking. It's stepping outside this vicious cycle and remembering that it's all been done. It's all been won. You don't fight in vain. You fight from a position of victory.

And your care? That's between you and Jesus.

Friday 19 February 2016

#booklaunch: The Perihelix by Jemima Pett

The Perihelix, a new book by Jemima Pett, was launched this week!

You can buy it at Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo and Smashwords. So, why should you buy The Perihelix?

Perihelix finalThe Perihelix by Jemima Pett

Book 1 of the Viridian System Series
  • Published by Princelings Publications
  • Genre: science fiction/scifi-adventure/space opera (for grownups, although I wouldn't describe it as adult)
  • Words/pages: 83,800 / 360
  • Formats: all ereaders and paperback
  • Price: ebook currently on special offer at 99c (rrp $2.99): paperback rrp $10.99

The Blurb:

Two asteroid miners, three women, one spacecraft, and five pieces of a legendary weapon scattered around the galaxy. Big Pete and the Swede are rich, or so they discover after bringing their latest haul of orichalcum in from the asteroid belt. So some well-deserved vacation awaits them. It starts out just fine, with one of the men winning the big flyer-race of the season, but they start to receive odd messages, and despite the attentions from the girls, both realise that someone is trying to drag them back to their pasts, pasts they have tried hard to erase. As they set out to discover who’s bugging them, they are kidnapped by some particularly nasty aliens, which leaves the girls in a mess – stranded on the spaceship with very little idea how to fly it.

Buying links:

Amazon - Smashwords - B&N - Kobo - iTunes - Book Depository
The Perihelix (Viridian System, #1)

Interview with Jemima Pett

Q: How did you come to invent the characters in your new book?
It was through my regular flash fiction stories on my blog. We'd had a couple of times when I'd ventured into science fiction, once in a Casablanca/Star Wars mash-up which was called Paradisio, and then those characters got mentioned in a Random Title story called the Orichalcum Library, where two asteroid miners wanted to read real books, so the bar owner on another planet got hold of some which had been swapped for food by some fugitives from the Paradisio story. The asteroid miners turned into Pete and the Swede, and there we go.

Q. Why did they end up with three women? Isn't it a bit degrading to bring in your female characters as escorts?
Asteroid miners have a reputation for being hell-raisers when they aren't mining. Pete and the Swede want some female company, and after a while they realised they actually wanted company, good food, people to enjoy their vacation with, as well as bed companions. So when they found escorts who they liked, they rehired them, and if you can afford more company, then why not? As for why are the females escorts, well, in the Wild West women are generally either bar girls (escorts) or pioneer/ranchers' wives, and I didn't have any ranches around. The Viridian system is very much Outback, and although there are a few women in what you might call 'normal' jobs on Sunset Strip, it's not an area that's easy to get to without a sponsor. These girls have quite interesting futures ahead of them, though, as you'll see when you read the book.

Q. What was the most difficult thing about writing the book?
Having developed my worlds of Pleasant Valley and Sunset Strip, the two inhabited planets of the Viridian System, in part through the short stories, I then had to check the science for them. I've done a course on planetary science, and to me, getting planets that were physically feasible was important. I wanted Sunset Strip to have two sunsets in a Standard day, which led me to realise the difficulties with that, which I've mentioned in the 'world-building' section on the Viridian series website. Now, sorting those worlds out wasn't difficult. But then I realised ALL the other places they go to on their adventures need to be fully realised as well. Oh, boy! Physical characteristics, society, relationships with other planets, weather, occupants.... and keeping tabs on with all with a huge spreadsheet. But it's great fun. As long as my memory holds out!

Q. How do you keep up with the science?
At present it's hard, because in the eighteen months since I wrote the first draft of The Perihelix (at Camp NaNoWriMo) there have been huge developments in the detection of exoplanets - planets around stars outside our own system - and level of detail we've worked out about them. We've also had hugely more information about the outer planets of our own system. What is emerging is that basically, anything goes; a lot of what we thought would be the rule from what we knew of the solar system has been turned on its head. It's really exciting! Most of my updates come from a couple of websites, from other bloggers who report on interesting things, from the Norwich Astronomical Society and from the excellent BBC programmes The Sky at Night and Stargazing Live. And with a #BritInSpace on the International Space Station at the moment, there is more interest in astronomy and space travel in the UK than there has been for years.

Q. What's next for Pete and The Swede?
Well, I've already written about 15,000 words of Book 2, some of which are scenes for later in the book. I have a setting, some propositions and some problems, but I haven't got the solutions yet - except there will be a third book, so I don't have to complete the overall storyline yet, just advance the main issues of book 2 to a satisfactory conclusion. No cliff-hangers!

Thank goodness for that! Thanks for talking to me, Jemima.

on the beach - portrait

Jemima has been writing since she was 8 years old, and reading science fiction since she was about 15. She tried writing a scifi book while at college, but was put off writing entirely by a 'friend' who said it was rubbish. Even with a maths degree, a Masters in Environmental Technology and a Diploma in Earth Sciences, Jemima kept writing – although it was mostly manuals, newsletters and research papers. It was only when she moved to Norfolk, on the east coast of England, that she found characters who inspired her to write fiction again – and that led to the Princelings of the East series, now six books long, with the seventh due later this year. Where Pete and the Swede came from is another story entirely, but she thinks the guys who inspired her would probably be flattered, if they realised!

Wednesday 17 February 2016

#bookreview: Tea in Pajamas by Rachel Tey

Tea in PajamasTea in Pajamas by Rachel Tey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tea in Pajamas is one of those books where you reach the end and go "awwwwww so sweet! <3" (Okay, maybe that's just me.)

Beautifully illustrated, this is one book any 8- to 12-year-old girl who loves fairy tales would love to read. Well, I'm guessing at the age range. Maybe ages 8 and up, though probably by the time they reach 15, it would probably too "childish" and they'd turn their nose up at it, until they pass 25 and get a little nostalgic.


Belle Marie and Tess have tea in their pajamas at 3 o'clock every Wednesday afternoon (though Belle really has coffee) because it is the key that unlocks their entry into the magical world of Belzerac. Belzerac is filled with talking animals and magical adventures, and is the highlight of Belle's week - until the unexpected happens: Tess goes missing. Engaging the help of a new friend at school, Julien Edgehawk, Belle and her Belzerac friends set off to rescue Tess.

Tea in Pajamas is whimsical and endearing, a wonderful read for any child.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews


Still not too late to grab an ARC and help host Coexist ;)

Sunday 14 February 2016

No date today? You should've proofread.

I'm not sure how true this is... but well.
Have you spell checked today? :p

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic

Infographic courtesy of


P/S if you're not on a date today, drop by at Lightbox @ LUMA, The Whiteaways Arcade today from 1.30pm - 4pm for a date with us!
We'll be doing our monthly write-in together with the Penang Book Exchange!

Bring your pre-loved books and find a new love ;)

Wednesday 10 February 2016

#bookreview: A Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real MagicThe Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am a fan of big fat fantasy books. I read The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance in almost one sitting each. Unfortunately, I struggled through The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic. I found myself wondering 'when will this end'?

I actually liked the way it started off. It was funny. Engaging. I was all oh, poor Nora!. She manages to fight her way out of a bad situation with the Faitorens, through a bunch of enchantments she knows nothing about. She ends up in Aruendiel's castle, struggles through her preconceived notions of what life is and whether magic exists... and somehow loses her brain in the process. Her use of magic is mainly instinctive (and limited), she has her moments of standing up to Aruendiel's old-fashioned, chauvinistic behaviour, she makes progress in a lot of little things... but over all, it feels like the story is meandering and pottering about, making digression after digression.

There are frequent references to Pride and Prejudice (which I read years ago) which isn't all bad, but it gives you the feeling that maybe Barker is trying to emulate it too much. After all, Aruendiel is a well-known magician with land and title (though not much in the way of actual money and definitely no looks) and a mysterious past. He's also proud, rude and sarcastic. Definitely a Darcy figure. Nora Fischer is definitely an Elizabeth Bennet prototype - smart, witty and extremely distrusting of Darcy... I mean, Aruendiel.

The problem really is that the reason I read modern books and not classics these days is to avoid the (often) meaningless meandering that detracts from the meat of the story, slowing it down to plodding pace.

I complained in my review  of Legacy about excessive romance, and whilst this isn't excessive - and pretty much fits in with my obsolete romantic idea of star-crossed lovers - it did get to be a little too dragged out. Especially when the whole novel ends in a not-quite-ending.

I am not terribly excited about a sequel to this.

View all my reviews


Still not too late to grab an ARC and help host Coexist ;)

Monday 8 February 2016

#musicmonday: Here in the marketplace

So my dad made a remark that a lot of Jesus' miracles happened in Capernaum, and this song came to my mind.

FGA did this back in 1995.

Also, funny story.
My brother was about 5 at the time they did this musical and was learning to read. Or at least, we were trying to teach him to read. Every time we started on of those Peter and Jane books with "Here is Peter. Here is Jane" stuff, and point out the word "here", he would just start singing this song. You can tell we didn't get very far.

Friday 5 February 2016

#fridayflash: Character Observations

There’s a cute guy sitting at the table opposite. He has dirty blond hair and a five o’ clock shadow. I’d like to see if his eyes are blue, but he’s looking down at his laptop and I don’t want to stare. Okay, maybe I do want to stare, but that would be grossly inappropriate and frankly very rude. 
He'd already been sitting there before I came in to this Starbucks outlet. I took this table because it was empty; I’m not quite sure if I intentionally sat opposite him so I could look. My motives aren’t always that clear to me. Actually, the table beside him was empty too when I came in, but it had an empty cup on it, leftovers from its last occupant. Was that really a deterrent? Probably not, but I had no overriding need to move the cup just to sit at the table next to him when there was a perfectly clean one diagonally across. 
Then again, it might have been subconscious, because I like looking at people - just not talking to them - and I’m sitting facing the door. Well, between two doors - one directly opposite me, and one to my right. There is a wall behind me, with a rack of tumblers and mugs for sale. I read Dune: You shouldn't sit with your back to the door, if you value your life. I am surmising this guy hasn’t read it - or maybe he doesn’t care. He’s probably just not paranoid and doesn’t have any enemies, though I'm sure this line of thinking has appeared in more than one fiction series. Then again, I am probably reading too many epic fantasy stories, with too much bloodshed and war. In real life, I sit with my back to the door when I'm feeling particularly anti-social and don’t want to know who’s coming in. Stab me in the back for all I care. Those are the times I usually have my kindle out as well, to make sure that no eye-contact is made. 
His plain white shirt enhances his broad shoulders. It's rare to see plain white shirts nowadays. You always get the shirts with statements (either cute or offensive), big brand names emblazoned across the chest or those with some fancy design. White is nice. Crisp. Sexy. 
He has two rings on his left hand; on the middle and the ring finger, worst luck. I see that clearly enough because when he’s not busy typing, he either leans his cheek on his left hand or covers his chin with it, rubbing at his stubble as he thinks. There are two cups on his table but only one of him, so he’s either been here long enough to drink that much or his wife has gone off to do something and will come back for him later. Probably the latter. 
I think his eyes are dark, though. Oh well.


I was supposed to do a character observation piece for an online writing course by FutureLearn. It was supposed to be less than 200 words, so I cut out a chunk of the piece above for the course and then fleshed out the remainder just for fun.
And yes, there was a real guy sitting at the table diagonally across from where we were having our Write-In at Starbucks, Tanjung Tokong on Monday. I apologise for being distracted from working on my A to Z posts to write this digression instead. #sorrynotsorry

Wednesday 3 February 2016

#bookreview: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Gentleman Jole and the Red QueenGentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review comes with a warning: it isn't quite the "clean" fiction I normally go for, partly because I didn't know what I was getting into. This book talks about sex, bisexuality, affairs, threesomes, umm... and stuff like that. Now that's out of the way...

I jumped into Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen ("Gentleman", because the title is so long) on the basis of having read two of the Sharing Knife books (Legacy and Horizon) as well as a friend saying "Oh I used to love her Vorkosigan saga when I was growing up!" So I pretty well knew that I was jumping into the tail end of a series. (And there was wiki, though I didn't use it until after I'd finished reading this book.)

The lovely thing about Gentleman is that it doesn't require you to have read all the books to follow what's going on. It's quite a self-contained story on its own. Bujold is a seasoned writer - she drops hints and reminders of what has happened before in such a way that you don't feel you've missed anything from not reading those earlier books, but at the same time, you have the urge to pick it up because it sounds so darned interesting. (By the sound of it, though, some of these are new to followers of the series. Hm.)

Gentleman isn't exactly the military sci-fi story that the blurb leads you to expect. Instead, it's rather more space opera, following the budding romance between Cordelia Vorkosigan, the widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, and Oliver Jole, Admiral of the Sergyar Fleet. It's charming and a little slow-paced, and you come to the end of it feeling like nothing much has really happened (really, nothing much really did) but it's still a complete story about... relationships, I guess.

It takes its time to meander into the past, reminiscing about what has been, bringing up old stories - sometimes recasting them in a new light? - as well as introducing new stories of the past. Yet the present and the future is very much a cause for concern as well: Cordelia and Oliver have to work through their... decisions very carefully, considering both the impact on their lives in the present as well as their implications for the future; triggering, as the blurb says, Miles Vorkosigan to travel all the way from Barrayar (with his family as cover) to find out what was really going on in Sergyar. Not that a family visit from her son wouldn't have been welcomed by Cordelia.

Other diversions appear, giving an impression of things happening, yet not. Gentleman is really a romance told over a backdrop of digressions which include cultural problems with the Cetagandans, Betan views on love, sex and marriage, Bayarran prudishness, Jole's love of sailing, the incredible yet-to-be-documented biodiversity of Sergyar, exploding radials, frozen embryos, boot polo, and construction problems.

Note: I received an ARC from review via Edelweiss.

View all my reviews

Monday 1 February 2016

Coexist Cover Reveal!

Hey everybody, I finally get to show the world my awesome awesome awesome cover!

Jane Hays has been told all her life that it’s dangerous to be out in the forest past sundown. At fifteen, she’s quite sure that it’s all old wives’ tales... yet, why does her village bar the gates every night? Why do they even have gates? When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath.

The Fairy Queen is out for blood. There have been intruders - human intruders - in her domain and she will stop at nothing to find them and kill them. After all, it is only fair. She is only seeking retribution for the death that humans leave in their wake.

But Jane isn’t all that she seems to be. And the events of the night aren’t as innocent as they appear.

A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young at heart. 


Available for pre-order on: Amazon | Smashwords.
Coexist releases on March 31, 2016.


Things have been moving along much faster than I expected. The cover has been revealed in all its glory (wheeee) and buy links (pre-order, rather) are available!

I'm working on finalising things for the upcoming book tour from April 1 - 7, which means doing things like writing guest posts, sending out ARCs for review, working on tour notes, picking out excerpts, wondering what I should giveaway... oh and of course - freaking out.

Also, announcement!
Because Coexist started off as an A to Z project, I'll be giving out discount coupons to A to Z bloggers during the month of April. There will also be a giveaway to win a copy of the book and a $10 Amazon giftcard, so look out for that! :D

P/S you can still sign up to host Coexist on your blog