NaNoWriMo 2017 Week #1 & #2

Hello everyone~ It is November, and all of you writers and future writers know what that means. Yup, it’s NaNoWriMo time~ I am participating again this year, and decided to work on the same WIP I worked on last year, with mostly everything scraped because I decided it needs a new plot. The first week has ended, but I’m not satisfied with my progress. I have a goal of writing at least 10, 000 words for the first week, but I only managed to write 8, 000 words, more or less.
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Top 5 Favourite Halloween Movies

Hello everyone, and welcome to this ghost town that is my blog. It’s officially Halloween, yay! Sadly, I live in Malaysia, where we don’t celebrate Halloween, unless you’re invited to private Halloween parties by friends or colleagues (which I wasn’t).

Anyways, I didn’t grow up with decorating the house for Halloween, dressing up, and going out to other people’s house for trick-or-treat. However, I do have a Halloween tradition. When I was younger, there will always be Halloween-themed movies (usually on Disney Channel) playing back-to-back for days leading to Halloween’s Day itself. And I used to camp out in front of the television with snacks in my hand to watch these movies.

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October Writing Challenge

Seeking Words

Heyoh!

Like I don’t punish you guys enough by rambling on, I’ve decided to begin a 30 day writing challenge this October.

Is it considered cheating if I’ve already sketched out some ideas for the first few days? I’m not worried that I’ll stop after day 4 and embarrass myself (okay, I am a little worried), but I just wanted to factor in some extra time considering I have a career that sometimes burdens one with unforeseen and unpredictable deadlines. I’ve been on Pinterest (I have a love-hate relationship with that thing) and I searched for some 30 day blogging challenges. Some were really specific which apparently I don’t like, others had questions which didn’t really apply to me. So, this is what I’ve finally decided to go ahead with, the one-word prompts are generic so it should be easy, right? Right?

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If you think I’m doing this crazy thing…

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Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

516-WZ4BhsL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Goodbye Days
Author:  Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published date: 7th March 2017
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Summary:

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?


book-review

Every time there was an accident caused by texting while driving and someone died, people immediately tend to blame the person driving. But they rarely talk about the person sending the text. Goodbye Days explored that—Mars’ dad, and Adair blaming Carver because he sent the text that led to his three best friends’ death, as well as the guilt felt by Carver for sending that text message.

It always makes me sad reading about children, teens and young adults who lost their life too soon, before they get to grow up and live their life the fullest. before they could realize their dreams and do great things. It also makes me sad when the what-ifs game was played, like when Carver made up the stories where he didn’t send the text message. But I love torturing myself and breaking my heart when I read, which is why I love this book so much.

“I imagine what Eli saw in the split second before the trailer of that truck grew in his field of vision until it was all he saw.” — Pierce Bauer

This is a quote from Eli’s dad, when he and his wife were having their goodbye day for Eli with Carver and Jesmyn. I think this sentence is the reason why I’m so fascinated with stories with tragedies. I like to imagine what they feel that split second, knowing that they were going to die. I did that with this book too, playing that what-ifs game in their point of view instead of Carver’s.

I think what I love the most about this book is the goodbye days, when they get to know pieces of Blake, Eli and Mars that they didn’t know before. I enjoyed the flashbacks Carver had about the “Sauce Crew” as well as the imagined scenes he came up with sometimes. The friendship that Carver had with Blake, Eli, and Mars was so beautiful, it made me choke up and wish I get to have that kind of friendship. I also love the moments with Dr. Mendez, and Carver’s journey to get through that tragedy, to forgive himself and ease his guilt. At least, that’s what I’d like to think about the final chapter.

To sum it up, I love this book a lot and I think it was a masterpiece. It has everything I love, and made me cry and have this melancholic feeling from page one till the end. Even though the book didn’t really focus on diversity, I like the fact that it has diverse characters; Jesmyn was a Filipino adopted by American family, Mars was a POC, and Blake was gay. And one major thing I like is that Jesmyn and Carver didn’t end up together. It always turned me off when that happens, especially if the girl was the girlfriend of one of the people that died. I might have to take away one star if that happened. I would recommend this book to fans of History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, and I’ll Give You the Sun, and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, based on the melancholic vibe the books gave me, and how much it made me cry.

I rate the book 5 out of 5 stars.


So, have you ever read Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner before? What are your thoughts on the book? Do you like tragedies, and thinking about things like “What if the person did things differently?” and imagine different scenarios before crying because the characters are still dead in the end?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Ann, Not Annie by Sage Steadman

Title: Ann, Not Annie
Author: Sage Steadman
Publication date: September 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Summary:

Ann, not Annie, is tired of her nominal existence and has vowed to turn things around by dating the hottest guy in school, Jacob Waters. Easier said than done since Jacob isn’t even aware she exists. The truth is, due to Ann’s lively temper she spends more time in detention with the rest of the school rejects than she does fantasizing about Jacob Waters wearing spandex.

Her best friend and devout alien believer, Lisa, doesn’t like the changes she’s seeing in her BFF. Neither does Danny Feller, a fellow detention inmate and resident lost boy who has started keeping an extra watchful and unwanted eye on Ann.

When a chance encounter in an empty hallway changes everything, Ann finds all her dreams coming true and she is well on her way to living the perfect life she’s always wanted. But appearances aren’t always what they seem and Ann is going to have to face not just cold hard facts, but also her past.

Goodreads / Amazon

**The book is on sale at only $1.99 for the duration of the blog tour (4th September – 22nd September). Then, it’ll go up to $9.99


Excerpt:

From Chapter Four

Jacob looked back in Ann’s direction, smiled, and gave a head nod. Ann tried to smile, but it felt more like a scowl, so instead she gave a little wave. Suddenly she saw Bryce Singleton out of the corner of her eye. Jacob wasn’t nodding to her after all. Ann’s wave quickly turned into a wrist/arm stretch. She even yawned with disinterest for good measure.

“Lesbian,” Bryce leaned and whispered in her ear as he passed.

“Shut up, Bryce!” Ann said punching him in the arm.

“Ow!” Bryce laughed and grabbed his arm. “Watch it, Miss Firecracker.” He turned and sauntered off.

Ann sighed. “Shit.” She stomped over to Lisa’s car and climbed on the hood feeling skittish. The thing is, Ann had a thing for Jacob. I mean, every girl had a thing for Jacob, but for Ann it was different. She thought about him often. It was her secret shame, but she let it live because it was the only thing that connected her to the life she had before the accident, when she actually believed in the impossible. Her fantasies made her life bearable no matter how bizarre, embarrassing, or dark (in this case I’d say disturbing) they were.

Ann shamefully admitted to me one day that she did have a sort of boy fantasy involving the lead singer and occasionally the drummer of a rock band. I’m going to relay it to you here and add in a few of my own facetious details.

Scene: The lights dim, the steady thud of a drumbeat falls over the crowd, silencing them as searchlights fall upon a metallic drum set. Jacob Waters plays, the crowd screams (it’s her fantasy, not mine), he’s shirtless and wearing…spandex tights? (Maybe it’s a Bowie thing.) His fists grip the drumsticks as he pounds on the drumhead; his heart pounds with every beat; his body pours with sweat; his hair becomes wild as he bangs his head with the music. The set ends and Jacob jumps onto his chair, leaps over his drum set and launches into the crowd.

If you’re anything like me, at this point you might be wondering what this fantasy has to do with Ann. Well, you see, Ann is in the crowd. She’s screaming and singing and dancing as the drummer plays, and when he jumps into the crowd, he finds her. He chooses her. Every girl in that room wants the rock star, and the only person the rock star wants is Ann.

Yes, she’s embarrassed by this fantasy. Yes, she’s going to kill me when she reads this. Yes, she finds the fantasy shameful and has already undergone extensive psychoanalytical analysis over why she has it (although the analysis was done by Lisa, who eventually summed up her analysis by saying, “Yeah, that’s hot”).


Author Bio:

Sage Steadman was awarded a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. While pursuing her passion for writing, she worked as a licensed mental health therapist. She published her debut novel, “Snowflake Obsidian: Memoir of a Cutter,” in 2010 under her pen name, The Hippie, and since, re-released the second edition under her real name. The novel has been deemed an “idyllic” read, filled with love, humor, romance and heart. She is also the co-author of the gritty and inspiring historical fiction novel, “Upon Destiny’s Song,” alongside classical guitarist, Mike Ericksen, and has penned an article on teen cutting for Canadian Magazine, “Edmonton’s Child.” She has recently produced a stunning and thought-reflecting novella entitled, “The Waking Dream.” Sage is heralded as a talented writer who tackles her novels with a witty, raw and honest approach. She currently lives near Salt Lake City, Utah with family.

Website / Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: The Island of Dreams by Gregory James Clark

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GJC v2Title: The Island of Dreams
Author: Gregory James Clark
Genre: Social Fiction
Published date: 5th September 2017
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Summary:

The Island of Dreams

In 2107, twenty-four year-old Gary Loman is disillusioned with life. There are scant opportunities in the capitalist world that surrounds him. When he receives a prestigious invitation, Gary knows that the change he has been waiting for has finally arrived; it’s a ticket to fame and glory as a skater.

Leaving the old world behind, Gary embarks on a new adventure on The Island of Dreams, led by the world’s newest monarchy, where he is introduced to the woman who will become his wife and a wildly different social order, one which has evolved over the previous seventy years by virtue of a slow, quiet and largely unnoticed revolution. By 2107, however, The Island is poised to become one of the most powerful states in the world, acquiring, most notably, the territory of Kamchatka.

The Island Queen, Queen Katie of Kamchatka, with the help of her devoted Prime Minister and her faithful staff, then attempt to educate and train the 240 receivers of the distinguished Queen’s Ticket, both for their roles as skaters and within the Kamchatskiy organisation, for whom they will be working under a completely new concept in political economy, based on quality rather than profit motives, and which is replacing Marxism as the world’s rival to capitalism.

As Gary progresses on The Island, and as its Queen seeks out her new King, the world is on the brink of a breath-taking transformation.

Purchase link: Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble


Character Spotlight: Gary Loman (Main Character)

Gary is the key character, whose background and personality reflect a situation that had parallels with my own life at that age. He seeks to prove a personal capability and make a contribution to the world. Although set in a future time, it is postulated that without further development the social and economic conditions faced by such a character could easily be similar to those of today or the late 20th. century. The story aims to bring out the best in this character once placed in a team setting and partnered with others who possess the same desires as he does.

His suitability for his role both in the Kamchatskiy Auto Company that he is to represent, as well as the society that he is to join, has been pre-assessed, as the story reveals, in addition to the skating prerequisite. He and his setmates ( a concept partially inspired by Big Brother ) are then trained as skaters able to exhibit their talent as they tour the world (post-story) with their demonstration routines. No judges – just plain skating. In parallel they are educated in the philosophy of the new society and how to adapt to its workings based on total trust, which in turn is an essential component of Total Quality Management. The mystery of how Gary comes to receive the prestigious Queen’s Ticket to The Island of Dreams is revealed in the penultimate chapter.


About the Author:

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Born and raised in Lancashire, Gregory James Clark went on to graduate with a BSc Honours in Maritime Studies from the University of Wales followed by an MBA from Manchester Metropolitan University. In his professional life he has enjoyed working in the field of Quality Management and the design of programmes including; The Programme for Global Quality Promotion (PGQP) in Russia and the African Nations. Previous publications include Quality Matters: The Decade of Quality 1989 – 2000 (Spire City Publishing 2002) and Deming and Juran: Gift to the World (Spire City Publishing 2007). He is currently the editor of The Electron Newsletter for the Institution of Electronics. In his spare time he enjoys ice dancing, ballroom dancing, golf, chess and snooker and speaks numerous languages including; Dutch, German, Portuguese and Swedish.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Smallest Thing by Lisa Manterfield

Title: The Smallest Thing
Author: Lisa Manterfield
Publication date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Summary:

The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.

But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?

Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks


book-review

I was a bit weary at first before starting this book. While it has elements that I love in a book, it also has this dystopian-like feel which I rarely read. But as I started reading, I just couldn’t stop, and it hooked me almost immediately.

The Smallest Thing is a slow-paced book, and some people might think it’s a bit dull. But this book is definitely worth your time. The helplessness and the fear felt by Emmott throughout the story makes my heart aches, and makes you want to read faster to know how it’ll end. The characters were also well-developed, making the book much more enjoyable.

I would certainly recommend this coming-of-age book to everyone. It makes my heart aches with what-ifs and the unfairness of it all.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.


Author bio:

Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. A Strange Companion is her first novel. Learn more at LisaManterfield.com.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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