In My Mailbox (Christmas Edition)

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#1
Air
by

Synopsis
Prepare to feast your mind on the death defying, thrilling, and unexpected! Smarty and Speedy are two boys in the wrong place at the wrong time. They become the unwitting executors of a supernatural artisan's estate. Consequently, the two must flee in terror for their lives from a threat that is set upon them—which they cannot see or touch. Three years later Essie, a runaway, balks at inheriting her cousin's three-year-old son. She is sure that the way to deliverance from her drifter existence lies in attending the prestigious Mann University. Yet, the seemingly ordinary child, with an aura in the magic rings around his neck, and his insightful German shepherd protector defy that logic.

You can buy the 99¢ ebook at Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Sony Reader Store, and Smashwords OR the large print paperback at Amazon. Visit the author's blog HERE.

#2
The Secret of Spruce Knoll
by

Synopsis
It's hard enough being a teenager under normal circumstances; imagine being orphaned, sent to live with an unfamiliar aunt-and learning that there really is magic in the world. Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with so-called "channelers"-a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.

Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do they-and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, his charming tricks show her being a channeler isn't all bad; in fact, it's kind of cool. But is it Aiden's abilities or Aiden's looks that Eren finds so fascinating?

As Eren and Aiden's relationship blooms, so too does a mystery in Spruce Knoll. The town holds many secrets-and many enemies. It soon becomes apparent that the untimely death of Eren's parents was no accident and that her life might be in danger, too. Only time will tell if young, inexperienced Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.

eBook and paperback available here: Barnes & Noble
Powell's
Diesel-eBooks
eBook Mall
Books On Board

Visit the author's blog HERE.

#3
Tree of Cranes
by Synopsis
As a young Japanese boy recovers from a bad chill, his mother busily folds origami paper into delicate silver cranes in preparation for the boy's very first Christmas.

500 Follower Giveaway

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As promised, here's my 500 follower giveaway! Dear readers, thank you so much for your love and support all these while! I hope you'll like this giveaway.

Winner #1 (International) can choose between these two swag packs.

Young Adult (YA) Swag Pack


Adult Swag Pack

Winner #2 (Malaysia) can choose ONE (1) book of his/her choice from the list below. Books will be added from time to time. Some of the books are lightly read and some are new.

Children's

Young Adult
Fallen (Fallen, #1)http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413BDhDkEyL.jpgPossessions (Possessions, #1)
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)Prophecy of The SistersAnna and the French Kiss
Falling For RomeoEnthralledDie for Me (Revenants, #1)
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6KOTTx_PSZk/TA1V5crDRrI/AAAAAAAAAj4/RK0Y2upvGV4/s1600/leviathan.jpgMockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Alice in Verse
http://i43.tower.com/images/mm114105989/echoes-melinda-metz-paperback-cover-art.jpgSecret Speakers and the Search for Selador's Gatehttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/_p534s3l7sdk/TP1iyD92XCI/AAAAAAAAA5A/W1dZC8PRLQY/s1600/logic.jpg
FreefallRed Riding HoodHeist Society


Adult
Afterlight (The Dark Ink Chronicles, #1)Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)http://www.tianevitt.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/BetterPartOfDarkness.JPG
Little Vampire WomenJane Slayre: The Literary Classic with a Blood-Sucking TwistBlack Dust Mambo
MALAYSIAN TALES: Retold & RemixedRojak: Bite-Sized StoriesThe Dulang Washer: An Epic Tale of Love, Valour and Secrets
The Private Papers of Eastern JewelThe Confessions of Catherine De MediciVelvet & Cinder Blocks


Signed copies: Cassidy Jones, Brigitta of the White Forest, Echoes, Secret Speakers, Freefall, Heist Society, Afterlight, Black Dust Mambo, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici.

To enter, you'll have to fill up the Rafflecopter form below. Entries in the comments will not be accepted. Giveaway ends 23 January, 2012.

Book Review : Malaysian Tales: Retold & Remixed by Daphne Lee

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MALAYSIAN TALES: Retold & Remixed
MALAYSIAN TALES: Retold & Remixed by

Product Details
  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: ZI Publications Sdn. Bhd.; First edition (June 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9675266201
  • ISBN-13: 978-9675266201
  • Available on: Amazon / Abe Books / Silver Fish
Synopsis
Fables and fairytales. Myths and legends. They are an integral part of our heritage; of the legacy of our forefathers. Handed down from generation to generation. Passed on by word of mouth. Lamplight stories that quietly and cleverly skirt that fine line between childish fantasy and profoundly penetrating philosophy. This stunning new collection features 16 classic tales as reimagined and retold by some of Malaysia s brightest raconteurs. They spin stories that are steeped as much in mythology and magic as they are in metaphysics. Fictions that delve deep into the power of history and fable, that open our eyes to their importance, that are a testament to the enduring nature of our oral tradition. These are tales so immersive, so enticing, so welcoming, that you ll never want to click your heels and wish for home.

Review
As this book consists of 16 individual stories, I will review them one by one.

A Little Warm Death by Karina Bahrin is a retelling of the legend of Puteri Sa'adong. When I looked at the title, I expected something that is related to murder or crime, but the story turned out to be something else, which was rather bland. 1 star.

The concept of Batu Belah by Zed Adam Idris is new and exciting, but I got confused by the identities of the protagonists. I thought Kenanga is a girl and Tanjung is a boy. But then, the author used the word 'she' when referring to Tanjung. Then, I realized that both the protagonists are girls, and lovers! So does that makes them lesbians? The story was quite refreshing, but the ending of the novel left me feeling bewildered once more. 2 stars.

Bawang Puteh, Bawang Merah by Fazlyn Abdul Malek
preserves the charm of the traditional story of the same title while adding some clever twists to the story. In Fazlyn's version of Bawang Puteh, Bawang Merah, the half-sisters are good-natured and kind, but their mothers are always at each other's throats. A series of unfortunate events disrupts their once peaceful lives, but the sisters refuse to give in to their "fates". The story ends without a conclusion, leaving readers to ponder to fate of the sisters. Will they finally live happily ever after? 5 stars.

Don't F*ck with Mother Earth by Jeremy Chin
was quite an enjoyable story. It circles around two heavenly princesses, Sania and Sejia who offered themselves to come down to Earth to save the ecosystem. However, they made a huge mistake and had to pay a huge price for their mistakes. 4 stars.

Endless Night by Daphne Lee is told from the point of view of Puteri Gunung Ledang, who is much yearned by the Sultan of Melaka. The Sultan is so obsessive of her that he is willing to fulfill her wanton requests: build her a bridge of gold and silver, collect a few jars of tears and even offer a bowl of his newborn son's blood, but all these do not matter even the least to her.
3 stars.

Mahsuri by Preeta Samarasan
tells us of a Malay woman who is betrayed by her husband but has to bear the blame of adultery instead. A guy called Dharma liked her, but he never cross the boundaries between them. Her drug junkie brother killed her when he went to her house to demand for money, but he accused his sister of adultery instead. Such was her life, sad and tragic. 3 stars.

Raja Bersiong by Amir Muhammad is written in the form of a proposal to remake the film of the same title in a musical. This proposal is quite funny and witty, and I really liked it.
4 stars.

The plot of Si Tanggang
by Preeta Samarasan follows the tale of Si Tanggang, an unfilial son who denies his parents after he prospers. In the end, his heartbroken mother curses him, and the Gods change him and his whole crew to stone. This story, narrated by Tanggang's mother herself, reveals her regret and sadness for cursing her son, as deep inside she still loves him. 4 stars.

Su and Her Natural Love of Swimming by Ann Lee is a quirky story which tells us about the unusual relationship between Su and Bubbles. Not really my cup of tea, sorry.
2 stars.

The Boy who Saved Singapura by Kee Thuan Chye
is a tragic tale about a boy who saved the country from swordfish invasion but paid for his life because of having more brains that the bendahara (prime minister in old Malay) . It also revels the heartless character of the sultan who finds it interesting that his people are killed by the todak (swordfish). The moral of this story is, don't be too eager to show off your brains, lest you lose your neck. 5 stars.

Princess
Hang Li Po plays a great part in The Gift by Janet Tay. Being sent to Malacca as a tribute / peace offering, Butterfly dreams of flying free in this new country. She is given a new name, Hang Li Po, meaning "The Beautiful Treasure of China", and she yearns to be happy in her new permanent resident. 3 stars.

The Last Voyage by O Thiam Chin chronicles the life of
Admiral Zheng He. We know about his public life as an admiral who spends most of his life at sea, but we know next to nothing about his private life. Did he yearn for love like normal people? Did he think big of his achievements? Did he feel tired after those long voyages? This story challenges the boundaries of fact and fiction. 3 stars.

The Legend of Din Ketolok Rehman Rashid was told by an old Malay gentleman to the author himself. While being exaggerated at times, this story still holds the charm of an ancient tale.
3 stars.

The Proper Care of Princesse by
Karina Bahrin is inspired by the legend of Puteri Sa'adong. Infused with mystical elements, this story is about a princess who never take her responsibility lightly. 3 stars.

The White Tiger of Temasek by Ho Lee-Ling is about a white tiger who wants to replace the Singha - a mythical lion to rule the whole region. It is also a tale about how Singapore got its name. 4 stars.

In Trick or Tree? by M. SHANmughalingam, the mouse deer and the crocodile work together to save the jungle. And as opposed by tradition, the two are also lovers. Eek! Trick or Tree? is a fun, witty and enjoyable story.
4 stars.

Overall Rating: 3.685

Note: Thanks to Lori Lee from ZI Publications for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Merry Christmas!

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and a Happy New Year!

Book Review : Velvet & Cinder Blocks by Ioannis Gatsiounis

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Velvet & Cinder Blocks
Velvet & Cinder Blocks by

Product Details
  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: ZI Publications (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 967526604X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9675266041
  • Available at: Amazon / Abebooks / Silver Fish
Synopsis
Ioannis Gatsiounis' debut collection of short stories brilliantly captures the spirit of the individual who struggles to define himself in a world where the idea of identity is both concrete and perpetually fleeting, a world where loyalties, friendships and family ties can alter in an instant. A young painter follows a false prophet deep into a desert. A pious rape victim struggles to see past her faith in the aftermath of a tsunami. A Chinese-American s Chineseness is put to the test in multi-racial Malaysia. A young Malay caretaker and his lone guest at a remote guest house struggle to find direction and compassion in an era of stark civilizational divides. With these ten beautifully imagined and decadently engrossing stories, Gatsiounis offers us a timely, penetrating meditation on intimacy, alienation and triumph in the post 9/11 world.

Review
It is really hard for me to review this book, and I admit that this book is not in the usual scope of my reading tastes. The themes of the stories in this book will resonate with those who yearn to fit in a society that is entirely different from their own. I appreciate the author's attempt to make his characters real and believable, but sadly, many of the stories are not to my liking. I find myself confused by the plot of the stories.

However, I did find some interesting quotes in this collection:

"You struggle in the name of vision and integrity only to have the world strip you of hope and a sense of belonging. Materialism and conformity are not to be frowned upon. They can save you from your barmy dreams. Some of us pursue the high road of "art" not because we have a particular passion for it but because we don't think we have what it takes to win the rat race.
"

"We have glossy buildings and good roads. But we're virtually void of intellectual and creative spirit. And without love for each other. The worst part? We want the world to respect us as a progressive democracy - and an exemplary Islamic one at that - without doing what it takes to actually be one.
"

The most memorable story in this collection would be The Guesthouse, which successfully shows the contradictory views between Westerners and Muslims. It also questions the truth behind some almost-misleading verses in the Qur'an, and whether these so-called Holy verses serve to guide its believers towards creating a better society or converting to extremism which is backed by a distorted version of justice.

It is easy to observe the author's excellent command in English, but there is still room for improvement, plot wise. I'm sure it is every author's wish to see readers developing a bond with the characters in his stories, but every reader's opinion will surely differ from one to another. I may not love this book, but that does not mean that others won't find it enthralling.

Rating:2 out of 5

Warning: This book contains some adult contents. Parental guidance recommended for young readers.

Note: Thanks to Lori Lee from ZI Publications for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Book Review : Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad

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Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories
Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories by

Product Details
  • Hardcover: 146 pages
  • Publisher: ZI Publications Sdn Bhd; First edition (June 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9675266104
  • ISBN-13: 978-9675266102
  • Available on: Amazon / Abebooks / MPH Online / Silver Fish

{Warning: This is not a recipe book. This is a collection of very short fictional stories.
The taste can be sweet, juicy, spicy, tart, or crunchy! The flavours of Malaysia, in fact.
So if this book could talk, it would say: "Bite me."}

Review

Rojak is a collection of short stories. And by short, I mean really short, where each story consists of at most two pages. Often, the stories end so abruptly that I don't know whether I should feel surprised or out of sorts. Some of the stories left me clueless about what the author wants to express, or are there no special meanings at all? However, I love the sarcasm that is displayed in a few of the short stories.

Stories like Speed, Ex-Prefect and DVD show us how the ones who held authority and power may not be as reputable as they seem to be. The letter Sham wrote to Wati in The Breakup made me laughed my head off with its direct translation from Bahasa Melayu to English. Feng Shui shows us how people tend to look in the wrong directions without pinpointing the cause of problems. Honesty is a wonderful short story; the theme is very much in touch with reality. At the end of the story, the protagonist's action betrays his character, and this creates a rather powerful effect on the reader. Dorm Horror Story is presented in the style of black humour, making readers crack up by the time they reach the end of the story.

Overall, this book is quite enjoyable, but I would recommend parents to read through it first before allowing your underage children read it as it contains stories about sex. Rojak is a funny, witty, sarcastic book, but sometimes I couldn't fully grasp the message the author wants to convey.

Rating: 3.685

Note: Thanks to Lori Lee from ZI Publications for sending me a copy of this book for review!