Monday 27 February 2023

#musicmonday: Budaya 4.0: Cerita Kita | A Tapestry of Malaysian Tales

The kids (lol) over at Berklee Malaysia Association wrote music to 12 stories of Malaysia as part of their showcase and in conjunction with GTLF2022. Here's the description:

The Berklee Malaysian Association (BMA) is proud to present BUDAYA 4.0: Cerita Kita (A Tapestry of Malaysian Tales). This year, our student-run concert aims to showcase music inspired by 12 stories of Malaysia from its unique fusion of multiple cultures that is influenced by the indigenous, immigrant and colonizing powers.

Our show presents original music composed by the students of the Berklee Malaysian Association that are inspired by local Malaysian voices, utilizing traditional and modern instruments from different ethnic groups. We aim to create a contemporary sound that pushes the boundaries of sonic standards, while presenting a narrative of how different communities and cultures solidified into a uniquely diverse Asian country.

Out setlist includes three stories from ‘Home Groan’, a collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic art, compiled and edited by Anna Tan. It features work by twenty-two writers and three artists, all either based in Penang, or with a connection to Penang, Malaysia.

You can currently get Home Groan here:

Penang: Hin Store | GerakBudaya/Hikayat

KL: Riwayat

Online: Malaysian Writers Society | Working Desk Publishing

Ebook: Google Play

Wednesday 22 February 2023

#bookreview: Whitstead Harvestide: A Speculative Anthology | Abigail & Sarah Falanga (eds.)

Whitstead Harvestide: A Speculative AnthologyWhitstead Harvestide: A Speculative Anthology by Abigail Falanga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This took me a long time to get through, partially because I took a long time in between stories.

It's an interesting enough collection of short stories that centres around a small English town called Whitstead in the 1800s, at harvestide...or All Hallows Eve. And it's also a "speculative" anthology, which means that all the stories deal with the fantastical, whether that's pure fantasy, fairy tale, folklore, science fiction, paranormal, horror and so on.

So on one hand, it's a really great sampler of short works by a wide range of authors who write in very different styles across a swath of speculative fiction subgenres... but it also doesn't quite gel together as a collection for me. Whilst there are some recurring characters across the stories and they all DO centre on the same location, each piece felt like a disparate stand-alone story. There's apparently a first Christmas anthology of this, where most of the characters were introduced--maybe if you've read that first this would be more appealing and slightly less confusing. (Some stories refer to events that happen prior to this, which I believe were in the first collection.)

Short stories read for the #2023TBRchallenge:
- The Guardian and the Golden Gathering
- What Once Was Lost
- Locusts and Lanterns
- Ollie and the Saints
- The Battle is the Lord's

Total: 5.

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And that's 5 shorts from the 2023 Booktempter's TBR reduction challenge... 23 more to go! whoops.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

#bookreview: The Last Tale of the Flower Bride | Roshani Chokshi

The Last Tale of the Flower BrideThe Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a dark fairy tale about fairy tales, where nothing really is as it seems. There are secrets within secrets--but will the revealing of the secret be what breaks the curse or what triggers it? That's the risk the Bridegroom has to take.

Indigo Maxwell-Castenada is a figure full of mystery and enchantment. She is rich and famous - and utterly eccentric, living in a world defined by her own rules. But the deeper you dig into the mystery, the more you find that it isn't really an enchantment. The Bridegroom dreams of a brother that he has lost. Indigo hides a best friend who has disappeared and is never to be spoken of. And the House of Dream's quest, it seems, is to reveal everything that has been carefully hidden and talked around for all these years.

It's hard to tell what's real and what's not in this fairy tale. Where does the enchantment begin, where does the hard, ugly truth end? Hidden under the glitz and glamour of the Castenada wealth, obscured by the magic of Faerie, is a dark tale of manipulation and abuse. This is a tale of memories buried because one cannot bear to remember them, of pasts obscured so that they do not hurt in the present. Yet with all that is hidden, there is this thread of truth that refuses to be buried, that screams to be uncovered...

...but at what cost?

It's still a love story of sorts - inasmuch as Indigo and the never-named Bridegroom understand love. This is a twisted love that cannot bear to let another go, that always lives in the fear of being left behind, and thus makes it so that their partner can never leave. It is utterly self-serving, taking all and giving nothing. At points, it felt like madness; a child so lost to their delusions that they cannot live in the real world - and cannot let others do so too.

It's hard for me to put an actual star rating to this one. It was a little too dark for me to truly enjoy - especially towards the end, and yet the lure of Faerie was strong enough to keep me going. Do read with caution.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Wednesday 1 February 2023

#bookreview: Storm Front (The Dresden Files) | Jim Butcher

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)Storm Front by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't want to do anything over CNY so I read this instead.

I got this like a million years ago (I cannot remember which book sale lol) mostly because someone had said that the Dresden Files were a good read. And then I procrastinated because, you know, everything else is a good read. And if I ended up liking it going in, that would be a hefty investment because there are like what, 10+ books in the series? and I only have the one book...

Anyway, it was...okay? Like a crime procedural/thriller but with magic and supernatural creatures/events. Except that Harry Dresden was kind of annoying and rather useless and hopeless. It doesn't help that there are very slight hints about his "tragic background" but hardly anything is revealed in this book, so you don't really feel any sympathy for him either.

I posted this on socmed and immediately got the "you must give him a chance! It gets better in books 5 (or whatever)" And I'm just Like, no one else gives other writers a chance if their first book wasn't great, so eh, whatever. (I'm also thinking that publishing must have been much simpler in the way back when, because similarly, if I'd started on Terry Pratchett with The Colour of Magic I would never have read any of the Discworld books.)

Maybe the later books are a good read, but this one was just okay.

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This was January's stretch goal for the 2023 Booktempter's TBR reduction challenge! (Read in January, but scheduled for later)