Category Archives: Indonesia

The City of Zirdai by Maria V. Snyder -a review

the city of zirdaiThe City of Zirdai (Archives of the Invisible Sword #2) by Maria V. Snyder

It’s suicide, Shyla. You’re the prize they want.’

Through her courage and tenacity, Shyla Sun-Kissed has awoken the power of The Eyes of Tamburah. But this feat only marks the beginning of the challenges that the magical order, the Invisible Sword, faces to free the underground city of Zirdai.

Though they have allies among the monks and splinter cells inside the city, Shyla knows the Invisible Sword doesn’t have the strength to win. With the group fracturing due to the strain of losses from their latest ordeal, thinly veiled suspicions and endless disagreements, it’s up to Shyla to forge a new united order.

When both the draconian Water Prince and brutal Heliacal Priestess learn of Shyla’s new powers, life becomes even more complicated as they will stop at nothing to capture Shyla and take the magic of The Eyes for themselves. Hunted at every turn and unable to hide, Shyla and the Invisible Sword must use every resource at their command – and unearth new ones – in their race to save the city from destruction. But their enemies always seem to be one step ahead. And the cost to win the battle may be more than Shyla would ever be willing to pay…

Published 2 June 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

The very long awaited sequel to The Eyes of Tamburah is finally here! In this instalment, Shyla is safely ensconced with some people who believed in her and wanted to make changes in the city, as she does. People are suffering and it is time to shake up those in power; problem is they are hidden away and very poor in resources. And it seems, there is also a mole…

I loved the strong female protagonists written by this author. They are all always such empowering and inspiring characters; definitely kick-ass ones! Shyla grew to be such a one in this novel. The romance is always so lovely with male protagonists who are protective but totally supportive of her having to fight her own battles.

What really got me in this novel is the big twist in the middle of it. I mean, I don’t know who feel betrayed most, Shyla or ME! Indeed, Maria V. Snyder lives up to her villainous author reputation. My heart hasn’t recovered yet even as the ending offers such beautiful healing. There’s something else in the air though… book 3 is coming and as this particular issue appears settled in this book, I’m not quite sure what will be in book 3 but I’m excited for it.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  instagramfacebook

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto -a review

dial a for auntiesDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

‘ARE YOU…DEAD?’
OH MY GOD. I THINK HE IS.
When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN.
Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.

IT’S PRETTY BAD TIMING REALLY.
It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?

Published 5 May 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

One of my most anticipated release of this year and I was so excited to receive it in the mail. My reasoning being is that author is Indonesian and so am I. With protagonist being Indonesian growing up & educated in America, I reckon I could empathise with her a lot and perhaps see quite a bit of myself in her. Only trouble is chick lit isn’t my preferred type of reads… but hey! There’s a mystery spin with a dead body involved; this could totally be fine…

Aaaanddd… it wasn’t. Unfortunately, this book really isn’t one for me which makes me soo soo sad. Even as I can see the appeal for other readers, I basically cringed my way through the whole book. I did manage to finish by reading really really fast through all the embarrassment [I think this shows just how so very Asian I am!] Meddy experienced. I guess the book is a lot funny but of a slapstick-esque nature and I’m just not a big fan of that. If this is your thing though, I’d highly recommend this book.

I loved Meddy as a character and her family especially the mother-daughter relationship. I enjoyed all the familiar things like Indonesian naming conventions, the language barriers between Meddy & her mum & aunts, and Meddy’s struggle of who she is with her family & others (especially with non-Indonesians).

While I like Nathan as the romantic interest, I wasn’t that convinced about this relationship at all. I feel that the funny things with her aunt completely overrode this side of thing and I just didn’t feel any joy for this pairing.

This was just another clash between my expectations and what the book actually delivers. I can see some of my girlfriends loving it but my taste in book is quite different from them so this is also a matter of personal preference. I am, however, looking forward to author’s upcoming MG fantasy novel which suits me to a tee.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagramfacebook

Blog Tour: Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: 2 February 2021
Australian RRP: $24.99

A gifted student, Nia longs to attend high school so she can follow her dream and become a writer. She has notebooks filled with stories she’s created about the mythological Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. But her family has barely enough money for food, let alone an education, so Nia’s days are spent running their food cart and raising her younger brother.

Following a miraculous escape from a bus accident, Nia is gifted with good-luck magic. Or at least that’s what everyone’s saying. Soon their family business is booming and there might even be enough money to return to school. But how long can her good luck last?

When a secret promise threatens everything she’s hoped for, Nia must find a way to break the mould and write her own future.

Buy at:  booktopia  |  Dymocks  | A&R  | QBD

My Blurb (4/5 stars)

A beautiful eye-catching cover but the thing that the book called to me about is its setting. It is set in Jakarta (capital of Indonesia) which was where I was born. I also spent my first 15 years there so I am mostly excited in being able to reminisce about my childhood and maybe also to be able to share with my own children, what it was like.

I am embarrassed to admit that I’m not familiar with this particular mythology of Dewi Kadita. It is possible though that I’ve just forgotten a lot of the stories as I have spent more years living in Australia than Indonesia. However, the way these stories are told in the book sound just like they would be told except, of course, in a different language.

Nia is certainly a strong character and she grew to be even stronger, at the end. Her experiences are not to be envied but luckily, she has her own guardian angels. She is definitely a character I can empathise with, even when her naivety nearly brings her to ruins. Her passion for writing and education, her love for her brother, and her diligence are admirable and truly aspiring.

Not all her friends are like Nia, of course. In fact, all her best friend wanted is to buy a new mobile phone and that’s what she’s saving for. She may sound rather shallow from this one sentence but do not underestimate her resourcefulness! Nia’s father is a drunkard and basically useless but there is another older male character for which I’m still scratching my head over as I just don’t understand the different pictures portrayed of him. I’d really like him to be better developed.

My childhood is not at all like Nia’s, the protagonist of this novel, as I’ve been so very blessed in life but I have seen with my own eyes those slums she lives in. I’ve worn the red & white uniform her brother wears to school. I’ve bought & eaten my share of fried bananas and martabak (I’ve introduced my boys to this last delicious dessert and now they’d fight me for the last piece!). To me, this novel is a trip through memory lanes and such a wonderful journey as I read this all in a single sitting. I loved it but unfortunately, due to the serious note of this novel, I’ve not been able to get the boys interested. Maybe another time…

Girl of the Southern Sea is a delightful coming-of-age story of a young girl chasing after her dreams. It is a novel which helps you see a little bit of how the other half of the world live and one that encourages all to never never give up.

Thanks to University of Queensland Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review. And thanks, AusYABloggers for organising the tour.

Find all the other stops by following the Tour Schedule 

About the author

Michelle Kadarusman is an Australian-Indonesian children’s author. She grew up in Melbourne and has lived many years throughout Indonesia, and in Canada. Her novels have been nominated for various awards, including the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature. They have also earned numerous honours, including USBBY Outstanding International Book, two Junior Library Guild Selections, and a nomination for the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Fiction Award.

Find Michelle on: goodreads  |  facebook  |  twitter  | instagram

Review: Man Tiger: A Novel

man tigerMan Tiger: A Novel by Eka Kurniawan
translated by Labodalih Sembiring
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I can no longer say that I speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently. I have an Aussie accent now though really, my Indonesian isn’t that bad! In any case, there are always certain things which do not ever translate well and it’s to my advantage that I can mix the two languages. I have, however, a keen interest in translated works especially from Bahasa Indonesia. This was the only basis I had as interest in Man Tiger and boy, I was blown away.

Man Tiger drew me in right from the very beginning and kept me in its grip all the way to the end. The mystery isn’t a whodunit but rather ‘whydunit’. I thought this was a rather a fresh proposal but since I already know who, it might rather be difficult to keep me interested but I was kept spellbound through to the end of the book. The story of the town and of Margio and his family fascinated me with their brokenness, their zest for life, and most of all, their passions.

There were a few things, translation-wise, which threw me off. I think sometimes, you just cannot translate certain things especially when it is a native food with no western world equivalent. It just didn’t sound right. I was also surprised at the sexual content and thought that I probably would not like it if I was reading the book in its original language. For some reason, sexual scenes just sound rather vulgar in Indonesian. A week later, I read an interview of the author, Eka Kurniawan, who stated this exact same thought! Nevertheless, I’m looking to source this when I go overseas next month.

Overall, I found the novel to be reminiscent of Haruki Murakami‘s. The magical realism aspect of the novel was slightly similar to Murakami’s works though the strange factor is not quite at the same level. The ending, I feel, could be Murakami too… It was so abrupt though I really could not imagine what else there is to be so really it was abrupt but perfect.

Man Tiger is a very passionate tale –Passion which drives us to live, to feel, to need, and even drive us crazy. I’m a huge fan of Murakami and I believe, Eka Kurniawan belongs on the same spot in my heart. If you’re a fan of Murakami, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with Man Tiger.

Thanks Verso Books (US) via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews