Wednesday, 29 June 2016

#bookreview: Creation | Greg Chase

Creation (Technopia Book 1)Creation by Greg Chase
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sam accidentally creates a new technology-based sentient species whilst trying to repair a derelict spaceship's computer. However, he's been living off the grid in a village on the planet of Chariklo, so he doesn't find out until a decade later when his old friend Lud sends a ship to take him back to Earth to face the music.

Chase spends a good portion of the novel exploring social mores, especially in relation to sex. At a casual glance, it appears that he's trying to promote the fact that if humans were a little more like Bonobo monkeys, where sexual activity is used as a means of forming social bonds, including conflict resolution and post-conflict reconciliation, then the world would be a better place. I don't know if that really is his point, but it's a pretty big digression if it isn't. (Okay, maybe this is a big factor as to why I couldn't get into the book... I just found his theories a little too weird.)

There's another whole chunk of tedium to do with black holes and the big bang, energy and matter, which makes me come back to my earlier conclusion that I'm really not a die-hard sci-fi fan. I shall be veering myself back into space opera territory from now on, instead of this metaphysical/hard science/cyberpunk stuff.

Because you know, I just want to read about fantastical other planets and aliens, political dynasties, family issues and people falling impossibly in love, which this book is a little short of.

*Note: I downloaded a free ARC of this book for review via Instafreebie.

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I was originally planning to get the ARC of Evolution (book 2) as well and review both at the same time, but as I didn't like the first book as much as I thought I would, I decided to give that a pass. But if you read this book and loved it, I do believe that if you're on his mailing list and you leave a review for Creation, you can email his publicist to get on his ARC team for future releases (or something like that).

Monday, 27 June 2016

#musicmonday: What it means to be loved | Mark Schultz



So I recently found my Best of Mark Schultz CD and started listening to it again. Out of all the songs I love, this usually doesn't rank very high, but I guess it's resonating with me now because I've just been helping my friend edit the testimony of their miracle son. (Seriously, I'm like thinking how did this baby even alive right now and reaching a year next month?)

Friday, 24 June 2016

A writing update!

I have been sitting staring at this blank space for ages, trying to write a little piece of flash fiction, but I have to admit that I am all fictioned out. So I guess I'll write a writing update.

I looked at my submissions tracking list and realised that I have submitted a short story almost every month since January. Well, if you take into account the fact that I submitted two in Feb, that makes up for the non-submission in March. Oh wait, and two in January too (not counting the stuff I edited to submit for fellowships). I've had 3 rejections so far (boohoo) and I'm waiting for the other 4 to be rejected (hahaha; yay self esteem.).

Things I'm currently (or should be) working on:

  • The short story for submission to Insignia, which will probably happen because I just need to sit down and edit the darned thing. Especially the ending. 
  • The novella for submission to Tor, which will probably not happen because I am terrible at SciFi; I think I am going to abandon my ridiculous attempt which is going nowhere. At least I'll be able to recycle these plot bunnies in something else. 
  • Putting together the script for next month's drama thing, which I NEED TO CHASE PEOPLE FOR. OI. 
  • Revising Semicolon and possibly getting people to workshop it because I really want to do something with that script but it's just not really working. Ugh.
  • The Christmas Thing (sigh), both for my church, and for my godfather's church, because I always overcommit and cannot say no. Yikes.
  • Editing the Snow Queen retelling which is actually written but I don't know if I like enough.
  • ABSOLUTION. I need to finish Absolution and rewrite it. No matter what I think I want to work on, it always comes back to this one. For some reason, my spirit is telling me that this is key, even though I don't know why. 
  • Putting together Codes as a single, because I can. And hey, the more I throw out there on the market, the better, right? I think. 
  • The Wide Open Drabble I want to do for LUMA's Wide Open exhibition
  • Probably a flash for the #mywriters' Penang chapbook we're planning?
Yeah. So help me God. lol

Anyone has like an hour or so to do a quick beta/critique of a short story for me? :D

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

#bookreview: The Princess and the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux

The Princess and the CaptainThe Princess and the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Skimming through the reviews, you find a very polarised opinion of the book. To be frank, if you're looking for a happy ending, don't bother reading this book. If you're looking for a tale of magic, love, adventure and the fantastical, you just might like it.

Princess Malva is sick of her life and the expectations her parents, the Coronador and Coronada of Galnicia, have placed on her. Encouraged by her tutor, the Archont, Malva makes a dash for freedom with her friend and chambermaid, Philomena. But at only sixteen, Malva isn't prepared for the dangers and the ordeals of the Known World. Escaping from one terrifying situation to another, Malva pushes on, driven only by her intense desire to reach Elgolia, the perfect utopia once described by a drunken sailor.

Orpheus McBott, of the line of the famous McBott seafaring men, has never set foot on a ship because of a head injury that would kill him after two days at sea. Then he discovers that the injury was a story made up by his father to keep him from discovering his pirating activities. When the Coronador calls for volunteers to go on an expedition to rescue his daughter, Orpheus jumps at the chance to fulfil his childhood dreams.

But the sea is a tricky thing and when Malva, Orpheus and their friends cross the Great Barrier, they have to face the ordeals set before them by the Catabea, Guardian of the Archipelago, in order to return to the Known World. If they fail, they will be tortured to death.

The Princess and the Captain is an enormously entertaining read, full of the fantastical and the magical. It's also full of heartbreak and tears and pain, of course, but that's all part of the story. Bondoux does not hesitate to press into her character's deepest secrets and makes them face their greatest fears - and their deepest desires. Malva is drastically changed by her adventure and you get to watch as she grows from a rebellious teenager into a wise young woman.

The story has a tragic end, as I said in the start, so if you really do not like sad endings, just don't read this book. Yet it is a book of hope and resilience amidst tears and there is much to be glad for too.

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Monday, 20 June 2016

#musicmonday: Saturn | Sleeping at Last



You taught me the courage of stars before you left.
How light carries on endlessly, even after death.
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite.
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist.

I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again.
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen.
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes.

I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again.
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen.
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes.

With shortness of breath, I’ll explain the infinite
How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.


---

And it's curtains for W;T.

Saturn provided a fitting ending to the play, even as this rounds out my final post about it.

One day, I'll write a play as beautiful as this one. As poignant. As gripping. As devastatingly hopeful. 

Friday, 17 June 2016

In lieu of a #fridayflash, here's a... strange #poem? #throwback


I was looking for a pastel yellow slightly-smaller-than-A5 MGS co-op notepad with Forever Friends printed on it, which contains notes I remember writing for a Christmas exhibition/thing I once wanted to do that sounds very like what is being proposed for this year's Christmas thing, but I found this instead.

As far as I can tell, there were two brothers - Sean and Jordan - and Sean is writing about Jordan's cat, but I... have no idea what it was about. Or who they are. I remember writing a Jordan Dastream once, but WHO IS SEAN???? And why doesn't the last line rhyme? What was I doing? Why was I writing on exam paper? If I'm writing on exam paper, it's probably from... 1999? (Well, anytime from between 1998 - 2001, but likely 1999 because in 2000 - 2001, I was writing in a notebook.)

At any rate, if I can't find that notepad, I will probably have to reconceptualise everything. Boo.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

#bookreview: Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn

Indie Author Survival Guide (Second Edition)Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd heard a lot of good stuff about this book, so when the second edition came out and I had money (i.e. Amazon gift card balance), I decided to get it. Also, I was there as a book blogger when she first released Open Minds, and then she started becoming like this big name in something like 2 - 3 years, and I'm thinking, dang, how did she do that?

Then it sat in my kindle for ages and ages and ages until January when I was working on releasing my novella (Coexist) and getting the jitters.

Well, the Indie Author Survival Guide has tonnes of good advice, some of which I read and went *phew! I'm doing that*, some of which made me cringe, like *oh noooooo am I making a huge mistake here?*, and others which are just, okay, I'll work on that once I get the stuff I'm working on out of the way.

I guess it's the most beneficial to those who are just starting on the journey - or better still, before you start on the journey so you avoid some obvious mistakes - though I'm sure older hands will also be able to glean some nuggets of gold from it as well.

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Monday, 13 June 2016

Friday, 10 June 2016

#fridayflash: Mince Pies



She'd been small then, a little slip of a child. Small-boned, brown-skinned, black-haired. Undeniably other. She peered up at the shelves of pastries. Stared at them hungrily.

He'd loomed large over her. Tall, white, hunched. A crazy grin on his face. Or maybe not so crazy. Just other.

"Which d'you want, eh?"

She pointed.

"Cat got your tongue?"

"That one, please."

"The mince pie?"

"Mince?" She frowned at it. Squinted, rather. "It's meat?"

He laughed. "Vegetarian meat. I assure you."

"Vegetarian meat?"

"Just pulling your leg. It's just a mince pie. You'll like it. It's dessert." He wrapped the little pie in a brown paper bag and passed it to her.

"Thank you."

"Merry Christmas."

---

I'm writing this in a cafe on Monday afternoon, contemplating the loss of my uncle. Funnily enough the first thing I thought about (true-blue Malaysian that I am) was that there would be no more British Christmas dinners. With roast turkey and potatoes and carrots, cheese cauliflower (no matter how much I do not eat cauliflower OR carrots), trifle and mince pies. Home-made pizza. Dry British humour. The strange way he pronounces things. Stupid things like how he nearly drowned me because I don't know how to goof around in the water like his boys. How I don't always know if he's serious or he's joking (hint: he's usually joking).

By the time this is posted, we would have buried him. We would have bid goodbye to his earthly shell, to the flesh that breaks down and returns to the earth that it came from. It is strange, this coming and this going. Life, death, eternal life. Assurance. Faith. Hope. It is different when a person was still outwardly strong and full of life, than when someone was already nearing the end.

But for now, this is goodbye, until we meet again.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

#bookreview: The Know: Preservation | Ed Kurst

The Know: Preservation (The Know, #1)The Know: Preservation by Ed Kurst
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

John Preston has always had this talent that he calls "The Know" - it's something like a premonition, or an ability to see the future. Any significant usage of this ability, however, leaves John exhausted. He's resigned himself to imminent death - until an exceptionally strong Know takes him all the way to the past: to when Tril, the leader of primitive humans, first Knows that the earth is going to be destroyed in a Fiery Catastrophe.

And so he finds himself involved with Tril (who time travels quite a bit), Stacey (uh, a little insta-love-ish, because premonitions), Akio (wait what - whose grandson again?), Albert Einstein (because, of course, geniuses need super powers), Mr Bill (an old college mate who fortunately has fingers in every pie) and Pavel (a security guy who has suspiciously high clearance and foresight).

Preservation reminds me of X-Men. On one hand, you have the Consortium who believe it is their right to rule the earth because of their special "talents". And on the other, you have another group of talented individuals who are trying desperately to save the earth. Oh, and of course, only John and Stacey can do it because they are the *special chosen ones*.

You have to head hop a bit in this one. Kurst mostly writes in third person, except for some chapters from John's perspective, which are in first person. It's... okay, I guess, but not exactly optimum.

I'm trying to think of more specific reasons why this isn't a four star at least... but I'm failing to at this point of time. I'll just say that it was pretty interesting (albeit maybe kinda generic?) and the alternating persons didn't exactly help.

* I received a free copy from Novel Publicity for review purposes.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

#musicmonday: Death Be Not Proud | Attalus



Death be not proud
though men will fear you
and think you grave when they draw near you
'cause you take us down
and we can't escape the fact
but I've learned by now
your rite is just an act

so lay my bones inside a hearse
take me in and do your worst
but, tell me why you choose to boast
you're just a shadow and a ghost
I'll breathe again, you'll be surprised
when you're the only one who dies
Death, be not proud
you'll soon find out

You're not the end
You're just the start of me
beneath my skin is the real heart of me
so don't pretend
that you can keep me locked forever in your grasp

but you're just a ship sunk on the ocean floor
your flag was stripped when you hit heaven's shore
so close your grip
but the only thing you'll ever hold is dust and ash
Death be not proud of that

dates on a stone
they're just an alibi
a simple line, it can't sum up my life
beneath the tears
the wreaths, the letters, and the roses
God composes a new life
as the old one decomposes

So come on death, I've got your dues
take them any way you choose
and shake the heavens with your smile
if my bones are worth your while
but this coffin's just a womb
thanks to the cross and empty tomb
my God will get the final laugh
Death, here He comes - your epitaph!

you're not the end
you're just the start of me
beneath my skin is the real heart of me
so don't pretend
that you can keep me locked forever in your grasp
you're just a ship sunk on the ocean floor
your flag was stripped
when you hit heaven's shore
so close your grip
but the only thing you'll ever hold is dust and ash
Death be not proud, you set me free at last

I lay down my life
and find it again
dust turns to dust
but my heart and soul ascend
God bless the path
that leads me through life's shallow end

I lay down my life
and find it at last
dust turns to dust
but I escape this shipwrecked mast
God bless the calm
that drowns the voices from my past

I lay down my life
and find it anew
joy turns to joy
at the thought of breaking through
God bless the pain
that makes me desperate for the view

Death be not proud
what are you boasting for?
thanks be to God
your walls are just an open door
God bless the place where you can't haunt me anymore

Death be not proud
what are you boasting for?
thanks be to God
your walls are just an open door
God bless the place where you can't haunt me any more

Lay my bones inside a hearse
take me in and do your worst
tell me why you choose to boast
you're just a shadow and a ghost
lay my bones inside the dirt
take me in and do your worst
in the end you'll be surprised
when you're the only one who dies
death be not proud
death be not proud

---



---

EDIT: A fitting post for today, maybe?

Death, be not proud, though some may call thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.

And though he sleeps on earth now, he wakes in the arms of the Eternal.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

#bookreview: Legacy by Ellery Kane

Legacy (Legacy #1)Legacy by Ellery A. Kane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I should probably start this review with the disclaimer that I generally don't like stories written in first person that much and this bias has probably coloured my view of this book. (Well, I liked it enough to give it a 3-star review, though that was somewhat borderline.)

The premise of the book seemed interesting enough. So Lex's mother, Dr. Victoria Knightley, helped create Emovere, an emotion-suppressing drug. There was unrest in SF, with Resistance factions opposing the use of the drugs. But the drugs are actually outlawed - but oh I see, it's being used in the military, especially the Guardian Force. To help the Resistance, Lex has to bring them a flash drive with important information. It all seems very scattered partially due to the filtered information that Lex, the protagonist, has. I usually don't have an issue rewriting the story synopsis based on what I read, but for this one, I really had to go back again to the book blurb and parts of the story to figure out what on earth the premise really was. That's really not good.

Another bugbear I have (besides spotty first-person narratives) is insta-love and insta-trust, probably because I am a suspicious auditor-type person who doesn't trust what anyone says. But other than a bad feeling that Lex has for Augustus Porter, the leader of the Resistance, Lex seems to like and trust everyone. And fall in love immediately with Quin McAllister - loner, bad boy, ex-Guardian Force with a haunting past. Needless to say, there was too much teen romance in this book for me.

*I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from Novel Publicity.

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