Tag Archives: australian author

My Reading Week

It has been one of those eventful period for me… bad news on one front, good news on another, catching a cold one week then caught up with the busyness of Chinese New Year!  By the way, Happy Chinese New Year to you all 😉  And just for fun (because I don’t actually have any faith in this), this is what the horoscope says the year of the Horse will bring us Monkeys…

… So Monkey will face some pressures in the year of  Horse.

Monkey is a smart animal. It should accept the challenges from Horse. If  Monkey can get on the horseback, then Monkey can go as anywhere they want…

Career: …, then the job pressure will  continue in 2014. You might have more errands. You might need to travel more.  You might have tighter schedule. Monkey people should use their intelligence to  challenge the stress…

Money: …There is no easy money in the Horse year, you must  spend your energy, sweat and time to exchange your reward. To travel out of town  might be a better idea  to locate your treasure…

Love: …If  you are married, then minor quarrel is possible, but that’s easy to avoid using  your wisdom.

Health: …Monkey people need to enough sleep and good rest for  their coming challenges. Monkey people might spend more time outdoor or away from  the home. You should drive very carefully on the road and try to avoid dangerous  sports.

There is minor unlucky star regarding family members in 2014. If you have seniors  in your family, then you should say hello to them often and make sure they have  good mood and health. If someone you love away from you, then  it’s nice to give them a call once for a while.

Oooh… dear, it’s not shaping up to be a good year for me!  BUT… I did end the year of the Snake with a very good luck.  You may recall, just over a week ago, for Truth or Dare, I went on a hunt for the elusive red cover of The Intern.  Well… I found ONE on Wednesday (the second last day of the year of the Snake! When I think back on it, I should’ve bought a Lotto ticket (lottery) -LOL).  The office was just so cold on Wed and as I still recovering from my cold, my nose was all stuffed up so all I wanted to do was to take a walk outside to thaw out somewhat.  As Dymocks bookstore was only a few buildings down the road, where else would my feet take me but there…?

I almost always visited the Young Adult section downstairs so as I approached the section, I spied something red sitting on the shelf… I really thought I was seeing things though I couldn’t stop myself from walking faster, my hand reached out though slightly hesitated just before I touched it (just in case, it WAS all in my head, you know…) then I grabbed it off the shelf.  I continued walking around the store with half my head in the cloud and the other expecting somebody… anybody… to come up to me about the special book I was hugging to my chest.

The next evening was the book launch so I begged the lovely people at Harper Collins to let me in despite the last minute’s (and very late) RSVP.  They were very kind and I managed to squeezed in along with a hundred other people!  It was a totally packed out event!  I mean, seriously, who would want to miss out on those cupcakes?  Or the Champers!  Seriously though, CONGRATULATIONS, Gabby, on the successful launch of your debut novel.  And yes, I am reading it though a little slow as I haven’t had much reading time…

Cupcake Gabby, Tien, Red

Q&A with Steve Worland +Giveaway


I met Steve at Supanova Sydney earlier this year and when I became his ‘fan’ on GR, he actually remembered me.  I was never better pleased 🙂  This is a very exciting opportunity for a Q&A and he has also offered to giveaway a signed copy of his new release (lucky you!!).  Without further ado, I present…. Steve Worland!!

What does the ultimate ‘bad guy’ look like to you?  What defines this person as the ultimate ‘bad-guy’?  [can be in fiction or reality]

vaderFor me the ultimate fictional bad guy must have a believable, personal motivation. You must feel some empathy with him or her, no matter how bad what they are doing may be — and it needs to be pretty bad. If the villain’s motivation is not believable, or doesn’t ring true to the character, the story won’t engage the reader. Also, the bad guy and the good guy are usually the characters who are closest to each other in personality type. When I write them I should believe that if things had been different for either of them they could be in the other’s shoes. The perfect example of this is Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

In both Velocity and Combustion, weapons of mass destruction are being employed by highly motivated terrorists. If you were in a position where you are the one person to stop the world from being destroyed, what would you do?  What would your first reaction be?  Sometimes I think reading books like this should equip you for this type of impossible mission – after all, the author has done all the research, right?  All you need to do is recall, apply, and execute.  Would you feel equipped from the research & writing you’ve done so far?

The characters in my books tend to be making it up as they go along, trying their best but not always succeeding, and I think that’s how it would be for me. I would try to rise to the occasion, utilise what I remember, and whatever specific skill set I might have, and give it a go — without knowing if I will be successful or not. That’s why I write my characters the way I do. To me it’s much more interesting to write an ‘everyman’ who is unsure of what course of action to take but will give it a go rather than a ‘superhero’ who has all the answers and knows exactly what to do.

Have you ever experienced writers’ block? If so, what have you done to break through this frustrating period?

I do get it occasionally. The best way to overcome writers block is to: a) keep writing, even if it’s terrible. I often find if I am blocked on something I just write until something resonates and starts to flow. Then I keep going for as long as I can, then go back and rewrite the part that was terrible. Prose never comes out perfectly formed so, to me, good writing is rewriting. Also, b) it can help to read or watch something that you love, and think is good, to inspire you. After you’ve done that something interesting usually occurs which will pull you out of the slump.

I think your book covers are great – the explosion on Combustion definitely attracts the male species (my husband for example though he’s not a reader, I’m trying to get him there yet!) but I’m finding it hard to sell to my girlfriends.  What would you say to appeal to the female readers who would normally walk pass the exploding cover at the shops?

I’m so glad you like the covers but I can not take any credit for them! Covers are absolutely the domain of the publisher and they have very specific ideas about what does and does not work for the readers they are targeting. I can throw in the occasional idea but that’s about it. All I can say to people is don’t judge a book by it’s cover, or back cover blurb for that matter. Open it up, read the prose and see if you are excited by the writing and engaged with the characters, then make a decision on whether the story is worth your time. Good writing can make any subject interesting.

Please share with us the man behind the Author Steve Worland (eg. What defines you as a person, what are you like at home / at your most comfortable zones, what do you do when you’re angry, etc)

Like so many White Anglo Saxon Protestants I’m defined by my work! My wife has been able to beat a bit of that out of me over the years, as has my daughter, but I’m definitely a guy who loves work. I have to really psych myself up for vacations and holidays, though I’m getting better at it. To relax my wife and daughter enjoy action adventure movies as much as I do so we try to see one a week if possible. I love to read but when you’re writing all the time you want to get away from it if you have a little time off. Having said that, I am reading, and enjoying, ‘Telegraph Road’ at the moment. The TV shows my wife and I watch tend to have great writing — ‘Mad Men’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Dexter’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘True Blood’, ‘The Killing’ and a pair of fantastic new ones called ‘Ray Donovan’ and ‘Banshee’. I don’t actually get upset very often, more often with myself if I don’t do something as well as I think I can.

What are your 3 greatest fears?

Making sure my family is healthy and happy is the most important single thing in my life. After that, making sure I live up to my potential is something I do think about now and then. And finally, I do despair for the fate of the planet on occasion, so I try to do my bit to make it better whenever possible.

A quick fun one – can we get a picture of the view from your office where you write? Or a view of your office?

I do write in my office occasionally, but now, with the advent of mobile devices and the ‘cloud’, I can write anywhere and everywhere, and that often means while waiting to pick children up after activities. Having said that here’s a pic from my office window. You can just see the Harbour Bridge in the distance!

worland office***Soooo totally jealous of this view!!!***

Thank you so much for your time, Steve!  For sharing a bit about yourself and your writing with us. You can find Steve at: website, goodreads, twitter, and facebook.

combustionAs mentioned at the beginning of the post, Steve is kindly providing a signed copy of his new release, Combustion, to giveaway here.  Check out the blurb on Goodreads and also my review.

If you’d like to enter, please leave a comment confirming your AU residence and who your ultimate bad guy is and why.

Please note: Giveaway is limited to AU only (apologies INT peeps but postage is prohibitive). Please leave your email address in the form where it is required but not in the body of your comment.  I will draw the winner next week (midday of Sat, 17 August 2013 – Sydney time).

Review: Peace, Love and Khaki Socks

peacePeace, Love and Khaki Socks by Kim Lock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Gifted by author

Of my first glimpse of this book I remembered thinking, hhmm… interesting title – bit hippie but yea… maybe… and I moved on. I am thankful though that Kim Lock approached me for a review as it prompted me to a closer look and acceptance. It was such a lovely, heart-warming book and I found myself (unconsciously) smiling all the time whilst reading it. I could barely wipe the smile off my face and it wasn’t because it was funny but because it was all so… relatable to myself as a mother.

Amy Silva has not thought about starting a family and definitely had no idea with what it will involve or what she’d need to do. So when she found herself to be with child, she was absolutely gobsmacked and lost. She tried to seek advice from a GP and then later her obstetrician as she tried to come to terms with her pregnancy but instead of feeling empowered, she felt merely incompetent. It seems that pregnancy just does not agree with Amy Silva.

Amy herself is very lucky in the love department. She is living with the love of her life and whilst their relationship isn’t without its rough patches, they are confident of each other’s love. As Amy struggles to understand pregnancy, its immediate and future consequences, she is really struggling to understand who she really is. Whilst this is not a ‘coming-of-age’ book as its standard definition, in a way it is similar to that or better put ‘coming-of-womanhood’.

Peace, Love and Khaki Socks is a book you can easily dive into and just continue on reading. You’d actually forget to surface to take a breather until something totally startling shocked you out of it. And when it did, I always found that I have unintentionally smiled the whole way through (sorry, train commuters, I swear I’m not a lunatic!). Whilst I couldn’t really relate to Amy’s concerns on pregnancy (I had different concerns), it reminded me so much of what I have forgotten in the experience of pregnancy and birth. There were times, however, that I thought this would’ve been ‘TMI moment’ if I haven’t gone through the same sort of experience. But since I had, I just found it hilarious.

I would recommend this book to all mothers out there –may it bring you many happy memories, and to all non-mothers (if you dare) –may it open your mind to possibilities.

I received an eCopy of book courtesy of author, Kim Lock, in exchange of an honest review (apologies for the delay). Thank you, Kim, for the smiles, reminiscences, and even some tears. Am awaiting your next work with great anticipation.

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The Hidden -GIVEAWAY (AU only)

The Hidden (Avena #1) by Marianne Curley
Publication Date: 1 March 2013 (in Australia)

For as long as Ebony can remember, she’s been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It’s as if she’s being hidden.

But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can’t be concealed. She’s growing more beautiful by the day, she’s freakishly strong, and then there’s the fact that she’s glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she’s intensely drawn to him. It’s as if something explodes inside of her—something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn’t know that she’s a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.


Totally by coincidence, I have got 2 copies of this gorgeous looking book so I’m sharing the love by giving away one of the copies.  I’ve not read it yet but this just looks really good, I had to share the love around 😉  Please note the right hand bottom corner is slightly creased (for a folding or something) but that is how I got it in the mail.

Giveaway is limited to Australian mailing address only (am about to sign a new mortgage docs so am feeling terribly poor :() and condition of entry is that you are either over 16 or have your parent’s / guardian’s permission to enter.  The only other condition is to like my Facebook page, as the Rafflecopter is being hosted over there, but that’s all there is to it.

The giveaway is open NOW and will end on Midnight Thursday 21 February 2013.  I will draw on Friday and you will have the weekend to respond with your mailing address.  I’ll be away for the weekend but I will post the book on Monday so that it will hopefully arrive by 1 March 2013, at the latest!

Review: Handpicked

Handpicked by Siew Siang Tay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Each time I come across a young Asian girl with an older Caucasian male couple (which is not a rare occurrence these days), I wonder what their story is. In fact, one of my childhood bestie married an older Caucasian male. I don’t particularly understand her choice but when she was living in Bali, she was dating (attracted to?) mostly older Caucasian males. This is, indeed, her choice and her personal taste.

Laila, however, felt trapped in a world she has come to despise. She longs to move on in the world; to not be poor, to be appreciated as the woman she is, as a person. When a new life in Australia presented itself to her, she will leave all she knows behind for what she hopes is a better future. When she arrives in Australia though, she found things were not what she expected it to be. And life doesn’t appear to be much better at all… And Jim is not who he presented himself to be in his letters…

Jim longs for that someone to cleave to. It’s no wonder really as to why he hasn’t much luck with women. He is a slob – full of good intention but without the will to follow through. Unfortunately, this seems to be due to his upbringing. He is, however, the typical Aussie bloke – easy going, loves his beer & footy and loves a laugh. He does not lie outright but instead wove a net of white lies and omissions of truth from which he cannot escape gracefully.

The novel was very easy to read. I found the language to be quite simple and yet, you could feel the heat of the summer, each breeze as it licked the skin, and of course, Laila’s angst and frustration. I was frustrated quite a lot with this novel: with Laila’s naivety (who am I to judge when I was pretty naïve myself!?), Jim’s failures, and the turn of the story.

Truthfully, I do believe this story is realistic and while it’s not the best type of story / outcome for a young Asian girl throwing herself into the big bad Western world, it’s also not the worst. There were a number of eye-rolling moments, wince worthy instances, and one harrowing incident but I can still imagine worst things that could have happened to someone like Laila. Overall, it was a pretty average read for me.

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Review: I, Wolf

I, Wolf by Matt Boyd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the title and the blurb, it’s pretty obvious what we’re dealing with here: werewolves. Whilst I sometimes appreciate knowing what type of supernatural creatures the book will be about, I think I’d prefer not to know for this book. The beginning of the book could hold the promise of the mystery but as we’re already told what it’s going to be… well, it kind of ruined the mystery.

The most enjoyable parts of the book were the descriptions of running (Romy jogs) and the hunts. I, myself, aren’t a jogger but reading these descriptions made jogging / running to be such a pleasure that I’m almost (almost) tempted to go for a run. The battle scene was also pretty awesome though the ending was slightly lacklustre.

Romy himself was okay but not the brightest character (I’m not referring to his intelligence, just that he’s pretty average). I much prefer Dimitri and Nat – Romy’s friends, with interesting backgrounds and they definitely helped the mood in the book.

The plot may not be unpredictable but I did enjoy this world and it was a very easy read. There appears to be signs (from the ending of the book & the ending of the battle) of a sequel of sorts but I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be a series. I would be very interested in the sequel *keeping my fingers crossed*.

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia & NetGalley for the privilege to read this eGalley

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Blog Tour: Mystery Falls -Author Interview & Review

Mystery Falls by Marilyn Phillips

Secrets. Lies. Deception. For the past six years, Samantha Hunt has lived with the belief that the untimely death of her parents was the result of an unfortunate accident—that by the cruel hand of fate, she had been left an orphan. But it was a lie, a terrible lie told to her by those who wanted to keep her in the dark.  And the truth… when revealed, will change her life and haunt her forever.

Suddenly plagued by a series of events which find her in danger and in need of a savior, Samantha is repeatedly rescued by the mysterious and elusive Shadow—a stranger who seems to know more about her past and the tragedy which befell her family, than she does. Drawn to him despite the antagonism she feels whenever in his presence, Samantha soon discovers that Shadow is not what he appears to be.  Determined to learn his true identity and why he has come to Mystery Falls, the small town in which she has spent all of her seventeen years, Samantha not only uncovers the secrets he refuses to share, but also the truth about her own past.  A truth which forces her to acknowledge that things are not always as they seem, and sometimes, not even those close to you can be trusted.

Resolved to seeking justice for the unwarranted death of her parents, Samantha embarks on
a journey which brings her perilously close to her own demise. Can Shadow use his angel powers to save her yet again, or this time, will he be too late.

Review (3 stars)

The mystery is what I really enjoyed in this novel.  Admittedly, it was a little slow at the beginning and it took a while before things came to a head however I don’t think the mystery is the ‘main’ attraction to this novel so the slowness was acceptable because of…

Shadow = Yum!  I love Shadow and I love the type of angel he is.  I have to confess of having been avoiding any ‘angelic’ paranormal type of books because I have a certain preconception of angels and am afraid that I would hate the book.  Whilst I don’t hate this book, I quite enjoyed reading the mystery & romance, I am such a stick in the mud that I was slightly disappointed with some of the angel business.  I’m not sure if any other readers will feel the same way as I really do think it’s just me and my preconception getting in the way of total enjoyment of this book.

The romance was quite sweet as Samantha’s faith in Shadow was really quite astounding. Shadow’s protective nature was really endearing but…

The love triangle – or what looks like a love triangle from the outside / the beginning.  I just didn’t particularly like this approach (well, you know me and my view of love triangles: **blearrgh**).  In addition, it all worked out way too easily.

Don’t expect too much sparks but it is a tingly sweet romance – recommended for a relaxing beachy read.

Author Interview

Quick Qs to warm up with –

White or Dark Chocolate? Dark Chocolate

White or Red Wine?  White Wine

Vegemite or Nutella? Nutella, I can’t go past anything with Chocolate.

Cats or Dogs?  Dogs.

Beach or Bush? This is difficult. I like both. It really depends on the mood I’m in.

I have to admit to curiosity, what did you teach?  And do you miss teaching?

I taught Maths, Science and Biology to High School students for thirteen years before becoming a mum and devoting my time to raising a family. Busy with being a wife, a mother and now, a published author, I can’t say I miss teaching. I probably should mention here, that on occasion, I do some relief teaching. This keeps me in touch enough so that I don’t really have the opportunity to miss it in a big way.

Did you make up stories for your children too (as bedtime stories)?  If so, would you share one of the most fantastical with us, please?

Yes. I do make up stories for my children, but probably not so much now as I did when they were younger. Rather than telling one story which would take too long, I will just give you a brief scenario of the kinds of tales I would make up. To start, they (my son and daughter) would always be the central characters. The setting would always be some magical place with magnificent castles, a dark forest and flowing water. And of course, no fantasy story is complete without a dragon, unicorn, fairy or other mystical creature to either befriend them or wreak havoc. My children love that they are part of these stories and I hope they will always treasure them in their memories.

How did you decide to write a series instead of a stand-alone novel?

When I started to write, I didn’t think about whether the book would be a series or a stand-alone novel. I just wrote. It was while I was creating Mystery Falls, that ideas for a sequel began to form. A similar process is happening now as I write Mystery Rises, so there will be a third. As to a fourth, who can say?

Why YA?

Good question. I’m not sure. I guess it comes from my preference to read YA novels. I like revisiting the idea of first love and all the angst which comes with that. The purity, the innocence, the intensity, It’s kind of fascinating to me.

How did the idea of Mystery Falls first come to you?

Lying in bed one lazy Sunday morning, I was allowing my thoughts to wander freely as I often do, when Samantha just appeared. She was standing by a stream, angry and alone. Curious to know why, I became lost in her world, and slowly, her story began to unfold. By the time I returned to reality and rose from the bed, the first chapter was written.

What is your writing process like?  I understand it’s quite different for each book but in general, do you write the opening lines first / last?  Do you usually know the ending earlier on & therefore, planned, or do you just go with the flow?  Have you drawn diagrams / flow charts to make sure that you’ve got the ‘facts’ straight?

Hmm… the writing process – I don’t really have a process per say. I just start to write. As to whether the first line remains the first, or if it is changed, depends on what happens as the story unfolds. The ending – I have no idea what that is until I am almost there. It might be easier if I explain it this way. As I go through the normal duties of my life, scenes and dialogues appear at random in my imagination. Then when I sit down to write, I piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. I love being creative, but I can’t say that it’s a planned process. I simply allow my own daydreaming to naturally unfold and I take what I like from there.

Please do share your best reads of 2012 to date.

The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The Premonition series by Amy A. Bartol. And of course, Finale, the conclusion to Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush series.

Marilyn lives on the outskirts of Melbourne (Australia) with her wonderfully supportive husband and two beautiful children. When not writing, she likes spending time with her family, taking long walks in dark forests and reading (anything involving paranormal romance / urban fantasy). Her favorite authors include Becca Fitzpatrick, Stephenie Meyer,Claudia Gray and Amanda Hocking. Mystery Falls is her debut novel and the first in a series.

Review: Sorry

SorrySorry by Gail Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: My local library – Get your own copy from The Book Depository

A whisper: sssshh. The thinnest vehicle of breath.
This is a story that can only be told in a whisper.
There is a hush to difficult forms of knowing, an abashment, a sorrow, an inclination towards silence.

A powerful story wove not about the violent crime that happened on one hot afternoon in a remote outback location but of the “crime” surrounding this violence. The “crime” that is hushed, that no one would speak out loud of, and, at the time this story was written, not apologised for.

There were 3 points of view to this tale which to me felt like I was looking from a distance, then was looking in closer, then in minutiae details. This is Perdita’s tale which began with the adult Perdita telling her story with some reflection on her childhood. The focus changes alternatively then between this to a third person view of Perdita’s childhood and the child Perdita’s perspective. This sounds quite complicated but truthfully, it flowed very well that I didn’t notice til after halfway.

Perdita, once a loquacious child, became a stutterer of a sudden. As an adult, Perdita explored this unfortunate event, the circumstances leading to it and afterwards. A child, she was then, and bereft of her words, unable to produce the words necessary to expound the truth. Will she discover this truth before it’s too late? If so, what will she do with it? Can she do anything with the truth in her hands?

A breathtaking & lyrical writing of Australia, its people, and their brokenness, ‘Sorry’ was the missing word needed / wanted at the time of this being written (am happy to be able to say this). Whilst the work is fiction, I have no doubt that something similar have taken place. Some atrocities were just beyond words and this literary work is for us to remember those broken and never to forget.

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Review: Lola’s Secret

Lola's Secret
Lola’s Secret by Monica McInerney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Print copy provided by The Reading Room in exchange for an honest review – get your own copy from The Book Depository

Lola is in her 80s and let’s face it, she’s been through a lot in life. She’s had the joys, the losses, had loved, has a child, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her life is full and now that another Hot Christmas is approaching (note: she’s in Australia), she’s keen to have some time to herself. Or is she really wanting some time to herself for herself?

At first, I thought I’d really like Lola – the humorous introduction of Lola joking around with her son and of her fashion statement as well! I can really picture her walking down the street and even working at my local St. Vincent de Paul! She’s loud (not necessarily in volume), blunt, and a totally out-there type of personality. And then… we are told her One Big Fault, she’s a busybody. Someone who just had to involve herself because she thinks no one else will or can fix a problem! Oh, I really wasn’t sure if I was gonna like this grandmother!

The book was told mostly from Lola’s perspective so we were given permission into her minds and hearts. It’s a great journey reading a coming-of-age novel but it is amazing journey to read that as people we can continue to develop & learn; maturity isn’t a condition of age but a state of wisdom. Lola may have lived a long life but she wasn’t stuck in the past. She may reminisce but she has also gone with the flow (even my 60yo mother isn’t as techy as she is!) and moseyed along with The Age- the 21st century.

Whilst the book is looking toward Christmas, it wasn’t too suffocating with all the “good cheer” but of course, you cannot have Christmas without a ‘good cheer’. We only want good things come Christmas time but this isn’t always the case however, that doesn’t mean that we cannot have ‘good cheer’. Even when things aren’t going the way it’s supposed to, that’s life! And that doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. In fact, it might be just magical in conclusion.

An enjoyable pre-Christmas reading -I know, it’s only October but the major department stores have their Christmas decorations up already! In any case, I’ve got to get this review out so you can have a good pre-Christmas reading prior to all the rush, right? While you’re at it, get some Clare Valley wine into you too and chillax 😉

Thank you The Reading Room for providing a print copy

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Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually, I would avoid the book everyone is raving about like the plague! But I just cannot resist this one. Stormdancer would be a book I’d pick up without hesitation if I first saw it at the bookstore. It has all the signs of being a keeper:

Gorgeous cover

Fantasy (I’ve only recently made a foray into steampunk and I like!)

Japanese spin

Female MC

What I did do though was to avoid reading too many reviews and get too hyped up about it. I think I did it quite successfully. From whatever I have not managed to avoid reading (that’s including the author’s most fascinating most hilarious blog), Stormdancer wasn’t quite what I expected; it was more than what I expected. What an amazing read it was!

Firstly, the description of this world reminded me a little of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station – it was stark, hopeless, and just, overall, dark. What I’ve learnt to appreciate most in Stormdancer is Kristoff’s use of descriptive language in drawing up this world in my head. I can’t even begin to describe how lyrical it was – this was something I did not expect! And he carried that through to the end, bravo!

It was a little hard to get into due to the jargons especially if you don’t know much of the Japanese culture. I’ve read and watched my share of manga and anime when I was a teen but I think I didn’t read the right sort of manga but 2 of my favourite animes were Rurouni Kenshin and Inuyasha. From Kenshin, I understand a little bit about weapons (limited as it is) and from Inuyasha, on Japanese superstitions / mythology (monsters / yokai and such). And yet, it still took me sometime to get into the rhythm of the story. I didn’t check the back but there was a glossary (I found it after I finished reading) so if you need it, it’s there 😉

One scene in the book reminded me of that famous scene on the Titanic (movie). The context is similar, ie. joys of life & living, but there was no romantic overtones at all in the book. It’s a famous scene and I won’t mention which but whilst I laugh at myself (saying that this movie is not a favourite of mine is an understatement), I’m caught wondering if there was some sort of hidden intent here?

Even though the main character is a teenage girl, this is a book I will not hesitate to recommend to a guy friend. Unfortunately, I won’t be recommending it to Twilight lovers but if you love Eon / Eona (Alison Goodman), then you’d love this book. To all mature readers of fantasy, this one’s definitely a Keeper!

This is a favourite passage of mine – the tension and the silence screams out of the page and placed me in that no man’s land where nothing living could touch me…

But now, as dusk fell, she reached out and felt no sparks, no clusters of warm, furry bodies or sleek feathered heartbeats. Silence had descended: a sweaty hush that fell heavy as a mouldy blanket.
Something’s wrong.
Creeping through the undergrowth, she crouched low, her footfalls barely a whisper. Eyes darting about the gloom, pulse quickening at every snapping twig or shifting shadow. Steam rose up from the rain-soaked earth, cloaking the forest in mist. She could sense the faint glow of the setting sun through the canopy above, the chill of night creeping with slow, measured tread through the wild wood. No bird calls. No wind. Just the heavy patter of fat raindrops and the faint scrape of her heels on dead leaves.
Touching the fox tattoo on her arm for luck, she reached out again, searching for the arashitora, or perhaps some hungry carnivore stalking her through the green curtain.
Nothing. A vast emptiness, creaking with the echo of old wood, the breath of the slumbering earth. Even when the wolf came, even after the snake strike, she had never felt more frightened or alone in all her life.

Thanks NetGalley & St Martin’s Press for the opportunity & privilege to read & review galley

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