Thursday 26 March 2020

Welp! It looks like I'm staying in for another three weeks!

Malaysia has just extended its MCO order to end on April 14... which means I'll have another three weeks of staying in.

This isn't much of a HUGE change for me, personally, but "Eh, I don't feel like going out" has a different connotation than "I'm not allowed to go out".

Work on the WIP is going fairly well: I passed the 30K mark on Monday, and will probably buckle down to get out another 15K to 20K by the end of the week.

Look at that!
Work-wise, I have 3 projects to keep me busy for a while.

At any rate, since I probably won't have any distractions (other than facebook, twitter, and following COVID19 updates, ha!), I decided that I might as well participate in the A to Z challenge again. 

I don't know what I'm going to be doing yet, except that it will be flash fiction. If you have any topic/theme/word suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Hope all of you are keeping safe, staying healthy, and staying at home! 

Wednesday 25 March 2020

#bookreview: Girl, Woman, Other | Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, OtherGirl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well. That was an interesting read.

I've read one other book by Bernardine Evaristo, Mr. Loverman, because it was on our MA reading list and she was teaching that session. I liked it so much I bought (pre-ordered) Girl, Woman, Other (oi too much money ke?) in hardback (omg anna how are you going to bring all these big, fat, heavy books home!), but also because omg I've been invited to her book launch I should gooooooooo and get the book siggggnnneeeed (I went. I did not get the book signed. Book launches are crowded and noisy and awkward, also I had pre-booked for Phantom but in hindsight...).

Minor fangirling aside, I finally got round to reading the book this week after putting it off for ages because obviously free review copies with upcoming publishing dates take priority over books I bought that were published a year ago. But I HAD TO READ IT SOON because of the Booker thing and all that; the TBR is neverending, y'know?

But about the book.

Girl, Woman, Other is easy to read. It feels like speech, like these twelve women (womxn?) speaking to you
narration flowing into speech, everything is fluid and leading you somewhere
prose-poetry, or poetry-prose
whichever way you put it
it speaks to your soul, wrenches at your emotions
you have to nod and go, yeah, I feel you
not denying history, reality, but dragging it out to be acknowledged
and even if you're not black nor British
you relate

Girl, Woman, Other is also difficult to read. It takes a while to get used to the style it's written in, it takes a little time to figure out the patois and pidgin, but most of all, it takes a lot of effort to follow the connections as Evaristo points you from one person to another and then back again. (Was this person mentioned before? Oh yeah, so-and-so's friend, I forgot. Wait, I did not expect that connection, huh!) She doesn't sugarcoat the dark stuff, but neither is it graphic.

I think it is, overall, a good read, an eye-opening read, and I may one day revisit it again.

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Tuesday 24 March 2020

#coverreveal: Shadow Light | Sarah Delena White

Presenting... Shadow Light!

Night lived in a tower at the end of the world.
Her name was Layla, and the world did not know her.

Day had no tower.
His name was Aeric, and the world held no refuge for him.

Yet with the evil Coroc and his army of shadowfiends terrorizing the lands, Layla and Aeric must work together to restore light and hope before all is lost.

Night and Day must unite to save all peoples from eternal, terrifying evil in this lyrical tale that combines the wonder of George MacDonald’s fairy tales with the beauty of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.

Shadow Light releases on 31 March! Preorder on Amazon now.
Add to Goodreads


Author bio
Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She's an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is the administrative manager for Uncommon Universes Press. When she's not writing, she can be found making elegant designer bead jewelry, traveling to festivals as a professional ballad singer, drinking tea, and seeking to create the perfect latte. She can be bribed with dark chocolate.

Website | Facebook | Reader Group | Instagram

Wednesday 18 March 2020

#bookreview: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water | Zen Cho

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in WaterThe Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some of the most difficult reviews to write are the ones that you love so much for undefinable reasons. Do I say I like The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water (Pure Moon for short) because of the way it's written? Do I say it's AMAZING because, on the very first page, I paused and thought it really sounded like the corner coffee shop? Do I count the times I chuckled because those situations and responses are legit what (and how) the aunty or uncle down the road would say?
"You hexed a customer?" he roared. He smacked her on the side of the head.
"I didn't say that, Mr Aw," protested the waitress, rubbing her head. "I just said I didn't deny only."
It's really not what I expected to find in a Tor book. Even though it's rather par for the course with Zen Cho's other (Malaysian-published) work. But better. Much better. I was looking at texts to use to illustrate using Malaysian English in writing, and I have to say, this is it. THIS is pretty much it. I spent a lot of time reading the text (especially the dialogue) in my head with the intonation of a Cinapek-uncle-next-door, if you get what I mean. But it's not that foreign that you can't read it in a normal quasi-British tone. Though, where's the fun in that?

Pure Moon's world seems to be a rather thinly veiled pre-independence Malaysia: the Reformists/bandits (Communists) and the Protectorate (the British) banding against Yamatese (Japanese) occupation, only for the Reformists to be outlawed again once the war was won.

What's the novella about? Well, a nun joins a group of bandits, hilarity ensues.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tor via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Wednesday 11 March 2020

#bookreview: The House in the Cerulean Sea | TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Linus Baker is a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youths (DICOMY). When he is unexpectedly sent on a classified mission to an orphanage on a faraway island, he has to face up to several hard facts about his work, the Department, and himself.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is really quite a lighthearted fantastical romp, though it dips into heavier themes about discrimination, bigotry, and abuse. The six very dangerous children are a delight no matter how evil they come across at first, and you'll soon find your heart melted along with Linus' through their innocence and their adventures.

Although somewhat self-indulgent at times, the writing is filled with dry wit and humour. It feels like a happier, less gruesome version of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children with a bit of... Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch(?); while the set-up feels like it should be a rather high-stakes story, the actual major conflict (and resolution) didn't quite peak as much as I thought it would, falling instead on a later, less physical, but more emotional conflict. If you're looking for sweet stories about found family and unconditional love and acceptance, you'll probably find it here.

All said, here's the content warning that whilst there is nothing graphic or sexual in the book, it IS a queer book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tor Books via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Saturday 7 March 2020

#bookreview: Liquid Crystal Nightingale | Eeleen Lee

Liquid Crystal NightingaleLiquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee

Well, where do I start with this one?

I haven't been reading much sci-fi lately, mostly because I don't seem to enjoy them as much as I imagine that I used to. I don't know if it's because of a shift in my reading tastes, or if it's an overall change in the style of writing in newer sci-fi books.

Liquid Crystal Nightingale is a case in point. I picked it up because it was written by a Malaysian and it sounded interesting enough; it's basically a murder mystery with political underpinnings set in a space colony in the future. I wanted to devour it but found myself struggling to anchor myself in the story and the world. It didn't help that besides the very carefully structured and described advanced future on Chatoyance that hinged heavily on gemology (something I have no idea about), it also flipped back and forth in time with rampant flashbacks and scarce signposts of whether the thing happening was in the present or the recent past or actually a few years back by now.

This makes it sound like I hated the book. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. It just required too much effort at the initial level. I admit, I am a very lazy reader. I was planning to review this according to my normal schedule on Wednesday (I DID finish it by then), but decided bagi chance la and did a re-read. The second read-through flowed much better when I could orient myself properly.

The world-building is well done. Chatoyance and its related space colonies feel fully-formed with interesting histories and backstories; the Tiers, the mining industries, the Artisans, the underworld and their religions. There are so many layers to the world that it has a life of its own--though that might have been its own downfall; the multi-layered complexity may have been what confused me (I don't do very well following real-life political intrigue either). I think it would appeal very much to more science-y types (or actual gemologists!) and those who like layers upon layers of political conspiracy.

The ending feels a little like an Inspector Rebus book: the mystery has been solved and the perpetrators caught, but the actual conclusion is still slightly vague. You have to read between the lines (a few times) to figure out what the perpetrators have admitted to and are being arrested for. There's a sort-of satisfaction to this, I guess.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Rebellion via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Friday 6 March 2020

Oh look, an actual update!

I am sitting here writing an actual blog post that is not a #musicmonday post or book review, which is both weird and awkward because:
a) I haven't done one of these in a while, and
b) I have a lot of other things I should be doing but am not doing because I am not in the mood for it.

This seems to be a recurring theme these days. I'm supposed to be getting back into the swing of things (or "hitting the ground running", ha! a dream I often delude myself that I am able to do) but it seems that I swing from the extremes of being too busy to stop (because I have been procrastinating too much) or stopping for too long (because oh look, there's nothing *urgent* I need to finish right now).

The second part is a lie. My Microsoft To Do list (segued over from Wunderlist) tells me I have 36 things planned, 7 of which are overdue and 5 of which are due in a week. Some of these have been there since December, and I've just been rolling forward the deadline until I gave up and left the red DUE DATE there to make me feel horrible. Not that I feel horrible. I just feel... lost? Anxious? Confused? And I'm drinking copious amounts of tea because making tea makes me sit at the table, thereby increasing the chances of Getting Things Done by at least 50%, if not more.

I console myself that I am, at the very least, doing well at completing paid jobs on time but if I know anything about business, that's not going to be great in the long run because I'm not actually doing anything to give myself more business. (Hire me! lol)

But on the writing front, because I've been telling my critique group that I'm going to start writing the new story since January, I did actually get round to starting the new story and hit 10K a couple of days ago. Which I'd initially targetted to hit a month ago. I don't know if I'll catch up to my original timeline (that aimed for a first draft by the end of March) but I guess I can make whatever's left over for CampNano in April. Well, at least I've started so there's that.

I have a book review that's overdue--I missed this Wednesday's post--so I suppose I should get round to doing that now. Since I don't feel like doing anything else tonight.

Monday 2 March 2020

#musicmonday: While I Wait | Lincoln Brewster

Deep inside my heart, I know You’ve won
I know You’ve overcome
And even in the dark, when I’m undone
I still believe it

I live by faith, and not by sight
Sometimes miracles take time

While I wait, I will worship
Lord, I’ll worship Your name
While I wait, I will trust You
Lord, I’ll trust You all the same

When I fall apart, You are my strength
Help me not forget
Seeing every scar, You make me whole
You’re my healer

I live by faith, and not by sight
Sometimes miracles take time

While I wait, I will worship
Lord, I’ll worship Your name
While I wait, I will trust You
Lord, I’ll trust You all the same

You’re faithful every day
Your promises remain

Though I don’t understand it
I will worship with my pain
You are God
You are worthy
You are with me all the way

While I wait, I will worship
Lord, I’ll worship Your name
Though I don't have all the answers 
Still I'll trust You all the same