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Showing posts from January, 2012

Don't Lose Your Sensawunda.

Was reading a local litblog of some repute today and at first I thought he would be reviewing a particular fantasy book but it turned out he just wanted to rant about the state of today's fantasy. About how today's fantasy novels seemed to be written for teens and young adults and none of them seemed to be written for middle-aged dads.

Well, the answer to that is, well... yes. Fantasy is written for teens and young adults. From Conan to Tolkien to Martin.

But then again, fantasy novels have always targeted teens and young adults. Sure, some of them have involved adult themes and imagery but let's not kid (heh) ourselves here, fantasy is, and has always been, largely a domain for the young and young at heart.

The message of the rant implied that just because modern fantasy is for mere children, as it were, it automatically fails to challenge, intrigue, entertain, grab by the collars or refuse any reprieve. And the writer condemned this sweeping judgement upon modern fantas…

You Can Never Have Too Many...

I've admired fantasy author Glenda Larke's work for some time and I have her blog subscribed in Google Reader so I can always read her latest posts.

But I never knew she just lived down the road from me!

I randomly met her on Friday evening in a restaurant near where we lived and recognised her from her pictures on her blog, so I went over and said hello. We had a short chat and then she asks me, "Would you like some reading matter?"

Turns out Glenda's cleaning her house out and is culling some of her books from her personal library. Well, obviously, I'd be happy to help!

The next day, I was over at her house with four shopping bags and look what happened:



That's altogether 188 books, mostly fantasy but there are some science fiction (finally, I have a copy of Frederick Pohl's elusive Gateway!) and some crime fiction as well.

But the most wonderful discovery amongst these treasures was a book I had been looking for the better part of the last decade. …

Taking it Bird by Bird.

Anne Lamont's wonderful book for writers, Bird by Bird, isn't a how-to book for writers. Rather, it is a book about the joys of writing as well as being an inspirational guide on the life of writing.

The book opens with an anecdote that retells a childhood story of Ms. Lamont's brother who has to write an assignment for school.

The assignment requires him to write about birds but when finally the day before the assignment has to be submitted, he cries in frustration that the task is impossible because there are just too many birds to write about.

The father comes over, takes a look at the assignment, then gives one small but important piece of advice: "Take it Bird by Bird, son. Bird by Bird." (I haven't read the book for years, so forgive me if this isn't exactly verbatim.)

It goes without saying that this is excellent advice.

Recently, I met with fellow writer, Elizabeth Tai, and we chitchatted about books, reading and writing.

After a while the Bird by…

SHORT STORY REVIEW: The Sun Never Rises in the Big City by Jeremy C. Shipp

This short story Kindle e-book started out as a generic hard-boiled detective novel with a broad asking a shamus to investigate her apparently lecherous husband.

But then the broad dies, and the story turns into something altogether different.

Shipp writes gritty dialogue worthy of the hard-boiled genre. In fact, I downloaded the story on the basis of the dialogue on the first page alone.

The story is pretty weird and throws curve balls at the reader a lot of times. I kept wondering what the heck was going on, and I didn't see the ending coming. Probably because I had no idea where the story was going most of the time!

I did not know anything about the story beforehand and I downloaded it on the basis of reading the first page. I didn't know it was a bizarro story, but if I did, that would have probably spoiled half the fun.

On the whole, I enjoyed reading this--I love bizarro--and am now interested in checking out the author's other work. Attic Clowns looks interesting, f…

REVIEW: Book Light - Paperback LED Light Panel by positiveideas

Bookaholics who tend to stay up late at night reading but have a partner who shares the room must surely understand the all-too-common dilemma of having to switch off the lights so your partner can sleep, but dammit you're just about to get to the good part in your novel but you don't want to get out of bed and continue reading in the living room.

The solution would of course be to get a nice book light, one that illuminates enough for you to enjoy your reading, but not pervasive enough to bother your pesky non-reading partner.

I've been married quite a while now. So it goes without saying I've been wanting a really good book light for some time. Getting a book light had become more crucial after little Sophie was born. I wanted to read in bed but neither the wife nor the baby would shut up and go to sleep when the lights were on.

I scoured the internet for a solution and discovered the LightWedge, a really nifty device that, like it's name suggests, is shaped like…

REVIEW: The Blasphemer by John Ling

You don't really expect a fast-paced action thriller to take place in the sleepy antipodean nation of New Zealand, and yet John Ling, a Malaysian-born Kiwi, has made it work.

In The Blasphemer, a Muslim author named Abraham Khan has written a very controversial book very much akin to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. But Khan is no Rushdie. I won't tell you why (spoilers!) but even the author himself claims the main inspiration for the character is the feminist writer, Taslima Nasrin, who is a far cry from Salman Rushdie.

It goes without saying that Khan is then targeted by extremists. Enter Maya Raines, who is assigned by the New Zealand police to protect Khan and his wife, Belinda Freeman, after a failed suicide attack almost kills them both.

John Ling then goes on to weave a fast-placed story that includes drugs, thrall-like Somalis, two hired assassins (with the names Devlin and Emmerich; see if you can catch the reference) and a mysterious man with an aim to create Ma…

Hey look! Someone reviewed Zombies Ate My Muslim!

And has nice things to say about it as well:
I’ve recently read a bit of bizarro and have to say even the one with freshly birthed wolves being shot out of a bears mouth isn’t as strange as this book. It’s stupid but funny. I was like wtf! while reading it. This book is weird, wacky and funny. 
Thanks, Jessica! This is exactly the kind of reaction I was going for with the story and was glad to see it worked. That makes me feel glad.

My Guest Post on John Ling's Blog.

My guest post about my experience self-publishing e-books is up on John Ling's blog.

I give a basic rundown about what it takes for a newbie author to get his or her e-book published on Smashwords and Amazon and I also touch a little on what it is like to put your e-book up on Amazon for free.

If you've been wondering what the process is for publishing e-books, do check it out.

John also has a new, exciting thriller out called The Blasphemer, available on Amazon right now.

From the blurb:
When Abraham Khan releases an e-book condemning radical Islam, the consequences hit him fast and hard -- an armed fanatic smashes into his home one evening, trying to kill him. He survives the harrowing attempt. Just barely. But will he survive the next one?


Maya Raines is the security operator brought in to protect Abraham. She is tough and committed. The very best at what she does. Always one step ahead of the threat.


But Abraham is no ordinary principal -- he will not hide, and he will not s…