#BuySingLit

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What is the #BuySingLit Campaign?

#BuySingLit is a campaign to get Singaporeans to read more local literature. Through book sales, book signings and events, the National Arts Council is hoping that more Singaporeans will take an interest in local literature so that we can push our authors up and encourage more people to write.

How Does HYPE Magazine Fit Into This?

If you guys have been following me on my other social media, you would know that I spent the last five months (my final semester) working with the editorial team to put out the February 2017 issue of HYPE magazine.

Now the unique thing about this issue is that it coincided with the #BuySingLit campaign that most of the major local publishers, authors, editors and the National Arts Council are backing right now.

So of course we did a whole huge spread on SingLit in the magazine.

I was privileged enough to be assigned the cover story of our SingLit feature with another writer and because of that, I ended up organising the interviews of nine differnt local authors with our team of writers, I organised each of these author’s individual photoshoots (logistical nightmare, I swear), I organised and planned the HYPE cover shoot with these authors and in the end, thanks to a flaky writer, I got to take over the individual interview of Daryl Yam.

I’m pretty proud of this okay don’t begrudge me my spotlight 🙂

What about the National Book Development Council?

A while ago, The National Book Development Council reached out to me. They wanted to send me a press kit as well as to host a giveaway.

In the press kit, they sent me some local reads as well as a press release about all the events that will be taking place.

I will be reviewing some of those books in the days to come to get you psyched for #BuySingLit so keep an eye out for that.

The Giveaway

The giveaway ended up being put in HYPE magazine so look out for that also if you live in Singapore and want to win $100 worth of #BuySingLit vouchers. There will be five winners and you can spend that money on our local literature at the book sales. Very cool stuff.

Till then, don’t forget to check out #BuySingLit’s Facebook page. You can find out all about the events that are happening over there.

And of course, come and support our local authors especially if you live in Singapore. I know we Singaporeans can sometimes have a bit of a stigma against local books. We never think that they are good enough especially compared to international books but I’ve had the immense pleasure of reading some local books as of late and I have to say that they are actually really good.

Some of our local authors can really go head to head with some of today’s most popular international authors but the only reason why they are not topping charts is because their very own people, us Singaporeans, refuse to support them. And that is honestly so sad. I don’t know about you but I want to see a Singaporean author on the NYT bestseller list one day. It just will never happen if we don’t lend them our support and promote and rave and recommend their books.

So because of that, over the next few days, I will be putting up some reviews of local books that you can check out and hopefully that will inspire you to get some local books either from the sales or online (if you live overseas).

Till then, keep reading!

Photo credit: #BuySingLit

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Tag: 15 Weird Questions

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Hi guys! So It’s another day and another tag because quite frankly I am way too busy dealing with exams and final assignments to blog. I’m actually about a week away from finishing my polytechnic life forever so that’s exciting.

So I basically decided to pull out an old draft and post that instead of just vanishing for weeks.

So anyway, I thought it would be cool to do the 15 weird questions tag because I love weird questions. I mean I think you only really know a person when you ask weird questions because then you really get to the nitty gritty of a person.

What’s a nickname only your family calls you?

Cams

What’s a weird habit of yours?

I bite the skin on my fingers. I know. It’s weird and gross and often painful but yes.

Do you have any weird phobias?

I have a phobia of swallowing pills. It used to be every single pill but I’ve gotten a lot better and now I can swallow small pills. I still have to crush quite a number of pills though.

What’s a song you secretly LOVE to blast & belt out when you’re alone?

Oh my there’s so many! Strangers Like Me by Phil Collins, Halo by Beyonce and I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys to name a few.

Quite honestly most of my music is either Disney or 1980s or way too indie for anyone else to enjoy.

What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

People who are rude and inconsiderate. Also people who are not punctual and responsible.

What’s one of your nervous habits?

I bite the inside of my left cheek sometimes till it bleeds. I developed that habit when I went for my first MRI and I was about to have a nervous breakdown while I was trapped in that noisy machine  for what seemed like hours.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

Well I sleep on a single normally but when we are on holiday or anything I always sleep on the left or the side that is next to the window.

What was your first stuffed animal & what was its name?

I don’t know what my first stuffed toy was but the first one I remember was a blue rabbit that my dad got me. It had a name attached to his foot but I forgot what it was.

What’s the drink you ALWAYS order at Starbucks?

The key to my heart is knowing my Starbucks order. So it’s a tall chocolate chip frappuccino with one pump of hazelnut, one pump of mocha, extra java chips and whipped cream. Never forget the whipped cream and I’ll hate you if you get me anything more then a tall.

What’s the beauty rule you preach.. but never ACTUALLY practice

Using toner haha! I used to religiously use toner twice a day and I swore by it but somehow I just got lazy and now I tell everyone about toner but I don’t actually use it anymore.

Which way do you face in the shower?

The shower head side.

Do you have any ‘weird’ body ‘skills’?

Not really.

What’s your favorite ‘comfort food’/food thats ‘bad’ but you love to eat it anyways?

Instant noodles.

What’s a phrase or exclamation you always say?

Oh my God.

Time to sleep- what are you ACTUALLY wearing?

An oversized t-shirt and long pants that are probably oversized as well.

So there you go. A very weird tag I must say.

Anyway, I hope you guys don’t mind that I probably will disappear for the next week. It’s my final week then I’m done and I’ll be back here with loads of exciting content.

Till then, love you guys loads!

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Review: The Aquaria Chronicles by Melanie Dixon

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In the near future, Aqua Marsden, a med school dropout with a fascination for marine biology, is learning how to exist in a city devastated by the effects of bleed—a deadly blue organic substance that suffocates and kills everyone in its reach. When a bad outbreak of the bleed causes Aqua to lose contact with everyone, she must hunt for safety with her new friend, Mark. Out of options, they must discover how to breathe toxic air and find Aquaria, a large marine research facility hidden under the city that could hold the key to humanity’s survival. Aqua may have given up saving humanity through medicine, but perhaps she can discover the cure for bleed and save Aquaria.

Goodreads

Pros

The Plot

I liked the story idea. I think it was quite fresh and interesting. I liked how zombies were brought in even though they were seemingly not related to the bleed at all. I thought it was good. I also really liked the plot twist at the end. It turned a seemingly dull and boring book into something that was worth it in the end.

The Setting

Much effort went into describing the surroundings and I enjoyed getting to picture this gorgeous underground aquarium home. It really was spectacular in my mind and I really liked that.

Cons

The Odd Plot Distribution

Quite honestly did not know how to title this section.

Okay anyway, I felt like the book was just very lopsided. So obviously the main idea behind the book is the blue bleed and the zombie apocalypse right? But most of the book is just them hanging out in the aquarium home and eating and cleaning fish tanks and it was like the outside world just stopped existing. There was no action at all. Rather it was just like they ate, they worked, they slept, they fell in love. Like what.

I’m sorry but that kind of ‘I did this then I did that’ style of writing was terrible. In fact, End Blyton’s boarding school stories had more action then this.

Very little attention was given to the real problem at hand which was the zombies basically and I just couldn’t understand why. I mean it was a good plot until it turned into a giant sleepover with like four people because God forbid you try to develop any other characters.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Lack Of Supporting Characters

Why were there no other characters?! Literally there was an huge research facility that was supposedly full of people but you hardly heard of them? How did Aqua and Mark not make other friends besides Derek and Joyce?

You would get random mentions of the fact that there might be other people in the facility but besides that, I went through the novel believing that there were like 10 people in the whole place.

The Dialogue

One of the things that I just couldn’t stand in this novel was the way that the characters talked. Let me give you an example of an exchange between Aqua and her best friend Heather.

“Am I ever. At least I don’t have to worry about this year, as I switched my application to marine biology without her knowledge.”

I mean who on earth talks like that in real life to their best friend? Or anyone for that matter?

“Aqua! I heard strange noises. Are you okay?”
“Yes, while you were perambulating away, I was being attacked by a zombie!”

Who on earth, after using a hammer to nearly kill a man, uses the word ‘perambulating’??? Not to mention that Aqua wasn’t in the slightest shaken up about the fact that she killed the guy. Anyone would have been so panicked but no. Aqua is totally calm. So calm in fact that she can use the word ‘perambulating’.

“Well, I’ll teach you, but right now our safety is of paramount importance.”

This was said as they were having bleed rain down on them and they were panicking and trying to get into a room. Who uses the word ‘paramount’ when they are in a panic?

“Aqua? What is it?” Derek asked me with great tenderness. He sat on the edge of my bed.
“My Mum is dead!”
“Oh no! What happened?” he asked.”

It was just very formal, stilted and sounded a lot like how I used to write dialogue when I was doing my primary school English essays.

The Ignorance

Okay so I hate to do this but I got really annoyed at how ignorant the characters were.

“I felt momentarily guilty for not asking about whether the physically challenged were welcome here, but obviously they were, as Joyce grabbed one of Mark’s bags to help him out.”

This was an actual quote from the book. I mean obviously the physically challenged are welcome in the bunk that will save them from the bleed! Are they not human?

“I hadn’t even considered that a disabled person would still be able to swim”

I just felt like there were so many instances in the book where the characters would say something and it would sound so horrible and like they were putting down people which I hated.

“I finished two years ago, in the gifted programme.”

“You mean the retards”

“It appeared that prejudice was alive and well, even in someone disabled. Did it matter if I was a retard? They had a name for everything nowadays. I might have suffered a bit of ADHD when I was younger, but I was doing better now.”

At one point in the book, Aqua tells Mark that she was in the gifted programme in high school. Mark instantly responds by calling her a retard. The book went on to elaborate that by calling her a retard, he meant that just because she had a learning disability, she was a retard.

I have a learning disability. I grew up getting treated differently during exams in school yet I graduated with a single digit ‘O’ Level score. Are you calling me a retard? Are you seriously going to sit there and call me a retard?

Honestly why include a disabled character and a character with a learning disability if you have such an agenda against them and you’re going to spend the whole book hating on them?

I mean some of the things were just mean. Like when Aqua had to share a room with Mark and Joyce told her that she was going to find a room with wheelchair access and that it would have to be on the ground floor. Instead of being grateful, that little twerp gets annoyed that Mark’s every need needs to be thought through and that she isn’t getting a good view from her room.

I’m not even joking. Ugh.

The Dreaded Insta-Love

Honestly, this was worst then insta-love. This wasn’t just insta-love. This was insta-love on steroids!

She meets Mark and instantly she assumes that he is in love with her (he is of course because every guy you meet is instantly infatuated with you. That’s so realistic). Then she meets Derek and she assumes the same thing. Then of course there’s so much premature jealousy coming from Mark towards Derek. UGH. I cringed through every exchange between them.

To put things into perspective for you, Derek takes Aqua out for lunch after about three days of knowing her and instantly they are flirting and he tells her that he wants to snuggle with her. The very next day they go out for lunch again and he kisses her without warning and asks her to be his girlfriend. And she says yes. Gosh I wanted to punch them both.

I have a friend who had a boy ask her to be his girlfriend after like one date and seriously, that is a major major major red flag. It is not cute. It is not endearing. It is creepy af and no sensible girl will ever say yes in real life.

Overall

I don’t know. There was so much potential in this book but the execution was just so poor. I really wanted to like this but I was cringing through majority of it and rolling my eyes at the other bits.

The book needs work. That much is obvious. I mean there are so many thing that just outright don’t make sense and the book clearly needs to be fact checked.

I mean this was said by Aqua during a fire drill.

“But then my stomach contracted. What about all the sea creatures? The whales, the dolphins, the fish? What about the electric eels? Was there any plan of evacuation for them? Or would they just all burn?”

She was worried that the fish would burn. Oh gosh.You think a fish could burn? Really? With all that water you worry about the fish burning?

“If there’s really a fire, what happens to the sea creatures?” I asked Stephen.

He pondered. “I don’t think there has ever been a plan. I think most of the tanks are water and air tight. Hopefully we could get a fire under control in time to save them.”

“Well, when this is over, we will have to have a chat with Stephen. These animals are important, and we can’t lose even one of them. Their lives are as valuable as ours,” I said to him.”

Bless her heart that girl is truly stupid.

So yes. It was a good plot but lacked a lot of the very basic things that make a book a book like sense and proper direction and buildup.

My-Rating-2-Stars

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Q & A with the Author of Riven: Jane Alvey Harris

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Which Reality Would YOU Choose?

Seventeen year-old Emily’s dad is in prison for securities fraud and her mom’s strung-out on pain meds, leaving Emily to parent herself and her younger brothers and sister. She’s got things mostly under control until a couple weeks before Dad’s release, when voices start whispering in her head, and Gabe, the hot lifeguard at the pool, notices the strange brands engraved on her arm…the ones she’s trying desperately to hide. Emily doesn’t know how the symbols got there or what they mean. They appeared overnight and now they’re infected and bleeding. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind.

Stress, insomnia, and her wounded egos drive Emily to self-medicate, which has to be why the nightmares from her childhood have resurfaced, why they’re commandeering her conscious even when she’s awake. It has to be why the fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help.

Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She’s powerful in the First Realm, maybe even more powerful than her attacker. It would be so easy to stay there, to lose herself in enchantment…to lose herself in love. But something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairytale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality before the man who tortured her can prey on her younger brothers and sister, too. Time is running out…

Goodreads

Published: 25 August 2016

Hey guys! Today I have something really special. Jane Alvey Harris has just released her latest novel ‘Riven’ and today, I have her here on my blog for a short little interview with her about the novel.

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  1. What inspired you to create Riven and the My Myth Trilogy series?

Honestly, when I began writing Riven, I was just looking for relief. I was struggling through a really dark time in my life and was doing therapy with an amazing counselor who encouraged me to write. I didn’t have a synopsis or even an outline; I was just writing scenes from my head and connecting them together. It took me a couple years to get the first draft out and even longer to realize what the story was really about.

Somewhere in the middle of undoing myself in therapy, the narrative in my writing transformed. It matured from a pretty fairytale to a hard-hitting, issue-driven documentation of a survivor’s journey to make peace with her wounded egos and achieve self-acceptance. It was dark, but it felt important. More than that, in the act of weaving my tale I realized I was laying my hands directly on the tattered pieces of a buried map leading to rich interior landscapes I’d never acknowledged or explored before, because I considered them ugly, worthless, and humiliating.

It was about this time that other people in my life began sharing their long-guarded accounts of abuse with me. I was overwhelmed by sorrow at their suffering, but also inspired by their confidence in me, which helped me understand I wasn’t alone. With the help of my therapist and my editor, who both prompted me to dig deep and tell the real story, I gained new purpose, new confidence. I learned that I was brave, that I was strong. I realized that my writing might actually help others who struggled.

2. Your main character, Emily, is a seventeen-year-old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. What is her situation in the story and how did she get there?

The story opens at the end of July, the summer before Emily has to repeat junior year of high school. Her dad’s been in prison for ten years, and her mom, a school teacher, becomes increasingly dependent on prescription pain meds. She loses her job and basically stays in bed all day, relying on Emily to parent her two younger brothers and younger sister. Still, Emily thinks she’s got things mostly under control. But as the date for her dad’s release from prison gets closer, Emily’s stress levels increase exponentially. She finds herself unable to cope with her reality and slips into a fantasy world she created as a little girl.

 3. What are the main themes in Riven and how are they developed in the story?

Riven is all about hard hitting social issues, including mental illness, feminism, and rape culture, to name a few. But the main theme is one of self-acceptance. My goals were to illustrate the damage that buried guilt and shame have on the psyche and demonstrate how acknowledging personal truth is the first step in healing from trauma.

4. There are a number of fantastical elements to Riven, including the imaginary world of the First Realm. What role does fantasy play in the story, and how is important to the development of the book’s characters?

Okay, this is juicy stuff. First, like Emily, many victims of childhood abuse use fantasy to escape a reality they can’t cope with. Not only is it key in the backstory, as a plot device, and in Emily’s growth throughout the book, it also adds layers of depth which engage readers on different levels.

Fantasy keeps the readers on their toes, too. Emily is an unreliable narrator, to say the least. She questions her own sanity, and as her stress increases throughout the first half of the book, she starts to self-medicate. At times, she’s unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The reader experiences this fracturing along with her, catching glimpses of the past, and is sometimes plunged into the fantasy First Realm without warning. Ultimately, it’s up to each reader to decide what is really real.

Mixing fantasy elements with gritty contemporary realism also adds action, adventure, and gave me the perfect opportunity to play with some really gorgeous settings. I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. On one hand, fantasy is whimsical and innocent. It lightens some of the darker themes of Riven. On the other hand, juxtaposing the ethereal with horror heightens poignancy of tragedy and psychological distress.

Most importantly, it is through the world of imagination that Emily is able to envision herself as a powerful individual. She creates a Realm where she’s able to accept and forgive herself.

  1. Much of Riven is based on your own real-life experiences. How does your personal story inform the novel and, more-specifically, Emily’s character?

Well, Emily basically has my personality. The book began as a love story to my three children, (Jacob, Aidan, and Claire, who you’ll meet in the book) at a time I was very vulnerable in my life. So, if the strength of the sibling relationships seems super-real, it’s because that’s really them, and Emily is really me. Lots of the dialogue I’ve taken directly from real life. While I don’t claim all of Emily’s experiences, I will say they are true, a combination of stories and experiences which have been shared with me, along with a healthy dose of my dreams and imagination.

  1. Riven deals with serious issues for teens, including abandonment, drug use, cutting, and sexual abuse. How do novels like yours help survivors and supporters with awareness and solutions for these issues?

Issues like these continue to be such a huge problem, because they make people uncomfortable and because they’re difficult to talk about. It’s easy to sweep the topic of childhood sexual abuse, and the many destructive behaviors which result from it, under the rug, because it just isn’t comfortable. The vast majority of survivors never reveal their experiences because of guilt and shame. How can we heal if we hide? My hope is that telling this story will help to normalize people. Not just victims of abuse, but anyone who struggles with negative self-image.

While I wrote Riven to be as entertaining and immersive as possible, my main purpose was to shed light on darkness and ugliness that don’t have to be life sentences of suffering. There is hope. There are resources. There are networks of supporters waiting to help. My dream is that Riven and the My Myth Trilogy will spark discussion and help people heal, while calling the rest of us to action as supporters. If we educate ourselves and abolish buried guilt and shame, we can end the cycle of abuse.

7. Are you working on the next novel in the series and, if so, what can you tell us about it?
Yes, and I’m SO EXCITED! The second book in the trilogy is called Secret Keeper. While Riven deals with the nature of legitimate victimhood, Secret Keeper is all about what comes next. Self-acceptance is just the very first step in recovery; Emily still has to do all the work of telling her truth in the real world if she wants to protect her siblings. And what happens when you speak that kind of truth? How do people react? How do you stop being a victim? How do you protect yourself from repeating the cycle of abuse? The pendulum swings in the completely opposite direction from victim in Secret Keeper, though not necessarily in a healthy way. There’s a lot of bad-assery afoot. I’m having a blast writing and meeting new characters, and I know readers will love them!

Book Trailer

RIVEN, Official Book Trailer from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Unboxing: Carpe Librum’s January Book Box

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Hey guys! It’s January and Carpe Librum has just released their first book subscription box of 2017!

So if you didn’t know, Carpe Librum is a bi-monthly book subscription service that costs $35 (including local shipping)and comes with a novel and a number of other little bookish goodies.

This month’s theme was ‘Out of This World’ and let me assure you, the box was completely out of this world. So let’s get to what was inside:

1. Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth

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On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Goodreads

Published: 17 January 2017

This month’s book was a hardback copy Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth. Let me repeat that to make sure you got it. HARDBACK.

I was honestly so excited to receive this because it was only released late last week so how cool that they decided to be so current?

I’m also really digging the fact that they decided to do a Young Adult novel again because you guys know I live for YA and it just really gives the box this added boost that just makes us Singaporean subscribers feel like we aren’t missing out on anything special from the American and Australian book boxes.

I feel bad saying this because I’m currently doing a big feature in HYPE magazine about Singaporean authors and their books, but seriously. Getting books that are hyped worldwide is such a treat in a local box in my opinion.

Anyway, at this point, I’m sure you have heard just as much as I have about Carve The Mark. There has been so much controversy about this book however I refuse to boycott it until I’ve read it. The internet has just gotten too sensitive to even function anymore jeez.

I personally cant wait to get to this book.

2. A Moon Phase Watch

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Okay when I saw that the Carpe Librum team had included a watch in this month’s box, I quite nearly died. I mean seriously. A watch. How. What. Why.

Guys.

I died okay.

The watch is so pretty and I can assure you that I’ll be wearing it for a very long time because it’s really adorable. And the funny thing is that I’ve been thinking of buying a Rosefield watch lately and obviously this is nothing like a Rosefield and I’ll probably still end up buying one but like how funny that this should come in right when I decided I needed a new watch?

3. Galaxy Keychain

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Just look at this keychain. How mesmerisingly gorgeous is it? Okay actually the picture does not do this justice.

Honestly I didn’t think Carpe Librum could impress me anymore with this box after the watch and the book but they did. I am in love with this keychain. Honestly it’s beautiful and I don’t really know where to hang it yet but I’m going to hang it somewhere because it’s a beauty and it’s purple which is my favourite colour.

4. Leia The Space Goddess Soy Candle

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In every box, there is always at least one thing that I don’t quite fancy and unfortunately, it was this candle. Now don’t get me wrong. I love love love scented candles.

In fact, when I saw it in the box, I got so excited. Even more so when I saw that it was a Leia soy candle (even though I don’t watch Star Wars). So I opened the tin and I saw the blue wax with the glitter on top and my heart was soaring because GLITTER AND SCENTED CANDLES AND BLUE WAX. But then I took a sniff of it.

Now okay I don’t completely hate the smell. I mean really it’s not that bad. But it does have a very medicated oil kind of smell which after I identified it, I couldn’t stop smelling it. Now obviously everyone likes different scents so maybe if you have smelt this candle before, you might like it. Everyone’s different. I personally didn’t like it.

Though I do like looking at the glittery wax so there’s that.

5. A Bookmark

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The box came with a Carve The Mark bookmark which I think was a nice touch. Nothing remarkable but it’s nice.

6. Stickers

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I love stickers and this month’s box came with three space themed ones. I’m still trying to figure out if they are normal stickers or laptop stickers or if it doesn’t matter. Regardless, I’m in love with them!

The designs are gorgeous and the sticker with the quote is literally perfection. It’s actually one of my favourite book quotes so this was a very lovely surprise. I can’t wait to stick them over my stuff.

So that’s all that was in this month’s Carpe Librum book box. Honestly guys, I’ve been getting every single one of their boxes for a very long time now and I can truly say that this is their best one yet.

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I’m not joking or exaggerating at all when I tell you that I screamed and started jumping around in joy when I opened the box. And if you need further proof, I’ll tell you that I was wearing a strapless bra and it fell off. Too much info? Okay I’ll stop.

But seriously guys. I am so proud of how far Carpe Librum has come and I truly hope that the incredible standard of this box carries through with the rest of their boxes in 2017.

If you want to get your hands on the next box, you can visit Carpe Librum’s Facebook page or their Instagram page to find out more.

If you got a box, let me know in the comments what your favourite item was this month.

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Spotlight: The Talisman Chronicles by T.M. Franklin

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For the next 5 weeks, Tuesday is #TalismanTuesday around here – as The Talisman Chronicles by T.M. Franklin are released – one episode per week!

A mysterious house. An old journal. A dusty chest holding more than secrets.

Each talisman found in the chest grants the chosen a gift, a unique ability. But with that power comes a burden—the duty of The Order.

Something is coming. Something evil. And it’s up to The Order to stop it.

Today, we get a double-dose of Talisman excitement. WINDOW – The Talisman Chronicles, Episode 1 is FREE all week!

 

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Chloe Blake has a unique gift, an odd connection to her house that results in glimpses of the past, present, and future via the picture window in her living room. Unfortunately, it’s a gift that sometimes proves to be more of a curse. Especially when she tries to help out Ethan Reynolds, the gorgeous boy who lives across the street – an endeavor that, for some reason, always seems to backfire.

Or leave her covered in mud.

But the house is convinced Ethan’s life is in danger and Chloe’s the only one who can save him. The problem is, he thinks she’s more than a little crazy.

Get it today only on AMAZON!

And while you’re at it, TIMEPIECE, Episode 2 is Now Available!

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Wren Galloway’s not happy that her mother’s vagabond lifestyle lands her in yet another new school, this time in gray and rainy Lamsden, Washington. She’s even less happy when she’s plagued by strange nightmares, sleepwalking, and a feeling that something really weird is going on in the small town.

When she wakes up outside Chloe Blake’s house—a house that’s been front-and-center in her dreams—she starts on a journey that takes her up the stairs to Chloe’s attic, and to a mysterious chest that grants her an unbelievable power.

But power comes with a price, and the question is, will Wren be able to pay it?

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Get TIMEPIECE on AMAZON!

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T.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, & a little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written three additional novels and several best-selling short stories…and there’s always more on the way.

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Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

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Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

Goodreads

Publishing: 9 February 2017

I need to confess that I started this book angry at Sarah and Brian for how badly they portrayed Nicu. Now I am not generally someone that speaks out about racism. I mean I do tend to feel that people tend to go overboard with the whole ‘omg white authors can’t write about racism because they’ve never experienced it’ crap but there are some things that I do frown upon.

In this book in particular, I didn’t like that Nicu’s parts were all written so badly and disjointed that it almost felt like they were poking fun at him and trying to portray him as illiterate. Like ‘hey! Look at that foreigner. He can’t speak english! Let’s mock him and laugh at him and his cultures. Let’s make sure everyone knows he’s dumb.”

So yes, I did start out being angry in the beginning. And then the story started to unfold and I finally say what the authors were trying to get at and I guess it started to make more sense.

Plot

This book follows Jess and Nicu. Two teenagers who are going through enormous struggles. Jess is from an abusive home and Nicu has just moved from Romania and is struggling with speaking English, racism and the fact that his parents are just waiting to earn enough money to get him married off to a girl in Romania.

In the midst of all this pain and difficulty, Jess and Nicu meet each other in community service. What starts out as two people unwilling to connect with each other very quickly develops into a friendship and then a relationship.

Told entirely in verse, the authors weave a heartbreaking story about finding your home within someone else and how true love isn’t always the happy ending that everyone expects.

Characters

Jess

Jess was a girl that came from an abusive home. She was damaged and she was trying to deal with her home life as well as her life outside it.

Jess was honestly someone that I didn’t really like from the beginning to the end. She was quite bitchy and racist towards Nicu even after they became friends and then lovers. Not to mention that she thought ridiculously highly of herself considering that she and Nicu were at the exact same place in community service. I mean seriously.

But I think what kept me hating Jess was the fact that she refused to stand up to the people that bullied Nicu. Instead, she often joined in or just remained silent. Like no. I cant stand that.

Nicu

I think I liked Nicu a lot largely because he could not speak English fluently. So you just automatically felt  more protective towards him. Especially when Jess is saying terrible things to him.

He was a very innocent kid but you could tell that there was this buried hardness in him that was developed from staying quiet about the horrible way that he was being treated in school and how his parents treated him like a piece of meat at home.

It’s something I think a lot of people can really relate to. I know I certainly did.

Overall

I really enjoyed this book. It was a very quick but impactful read.

I personally loved how it wasn’t your typical romance with the happy ending. Rather the ending proved that love does not mean that you end up dancing off into the sunset with your lover. Something that I think is sorely lacking in most young adult contemporary books these days.

The characters, while unlikeable, were well-developed even in this short book. It was just a read that was painful and it made me cry and we all know that any book that makes me cry is a good book in my books (wow that was a mouthful).

The way the book was written (in verse) was also really excellent and enjoyable.

Overall, something that I totally think you should read.

*An advanced copy was provided to me to read and review by Pansing. However, all opinions are my own*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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Tips For Staying in

Hey guys! So as you know, I am a huge fan of staying in. If you follow me on my Snapchat or Instagram, you would know that Friday nights for me means turning on a scented candle and curling up with a book.

While I have made significant efforts to get out more lately, deep in my heart, I am a huge fan of nights in and I’m not entirely sorry about it.

So today, I thought I would give you guys three tips for staying in.

1. Buy a scented candle


You can’t do a night in without a scented candle in my opinion so go out to Yankee Candle or your favourite store and buy yourself a scented candle.

Personally I think the autumnal scents are the best for when you’re staying in because they give you that added cosy feeling even if it may be boiling hot outside.

My personal favourites are the Apple Cider and Cinnamon candles from Yankee.

I also strongly suggest investing in a candle warmer. A candle warmer basically warms your candle so that the wax melts without you ever having to light a fire. Perfect for people like me who are scared of fire or who tend to fall asleep with the candle still on.

So you can curl up in bed and not have to worry about burning your house down.

2. Pick a short book

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For me, a night in usually means reading. But you want to feel accomplished because a night spent curled up should always have a nice feeling of accomplishment at the end.

I don’t know. I feel like after time out with a friend, I feel accomplished. Like hey I’ve spent time with this person that I care for and I’ve strengthened our relationship. So the key to a good night in is feeling a similar sense of accomplishment.

So what I like to do is to pick a book that is short. Perhaps something like a poetry book or a novella. And I’ll binge read it and the satisfaction is amazing.

3. Turn off your phone

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Now I’m guilty of this as well but very often, our quiet night in can become something entirely different because of a text you might have gotten or because of something you saw on Instagram. Not to mention the fact that when you start scrolling, you sometimes don’t stop till hours later.

So my advice is to just turn your phone off or keep it in a place that you can’t reach easily.

Don’t let your quiet night be ruined by people on the outside.

So there you have it. Three things that I recommend you do to have the perfect stay in. Remember that it’s okay to say no to an outing sometimes in favour of me time. Me time is extremely important so prioritise it for yourself.

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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Goodreads

Publishing Date: 12 Jan 2017

I haven’t done a book review in the longest time so I may be a little rusty. Bear with me.

This was such an odd little book but it was such an incredible adventure that it was impossible to not fall head over heels in love with it.

Plot

So let’s start with the storyline. In this book, we follow Flora, a girl with amnesia. Of course because of her condition, she becomes a highly unreliable narrator. Something that I found very interesting. I love unreliable narrators because then when the twist comes, it’s usually a bigger sucker punch.

So the story follows her as she goes to the Artic in an attempt to find the boy she kissed all while trying to help herself remember where she is, what she’s doing and who she can trust.

A pretty unique and quirky storyline in my opinion.

Characters

Flora

I loved Flora. I thought she was so brave (see what I did there?). No but seriously, for someone who loses everything in a matter of an hour or two, I thought Flora did an excellent job getting herself to the Arctic and hunting down Drake.

I mean personally, I would have been so terrified not knowing what was true and who had my best interests at heart and who didn’t.

But above all, I really liked how resilient she was. I mean here she was, writing everything down. So she knew how long she had spent looking for Drake. However each day, she just got up and went right back out to look for him. Never knowing where she was headed, where he was or what he was doing. She just kept on keeping on.

There was just something so pure and innocent with her that I really enjoyed. It’s impossible to not root for her.

Drake

There are no words for me to tell you how much I hated Drake. I don’t know why exactly but from the very beginning I just felt like something was so off about him.

I mean come on. Any guy that kisses another girl while they have a girlfriend is just screwed up. Not to mention that he does this literally a day before he leaves claiming that she will forget so it doesn’t matter. Like excuse me! It totally matters! You can’t just use someone like that! It’s as good as rape. I mean he was using her!

I don’t know I think I just felt so protective over Flora that knowing that this boy was ultimately going to hurt her just made me hate him.

Paige

I honestly don’t get Paige. I mean okay. She had every right to be angry about Flora kissing her boyfriend and I fully respect her decision to not want to babysit Flora when her parents went to Paris.

But instead of just ditching her, a responsible human being would have told her parents at least that she would not be looking after her.

I mean yeah it was good that she called every day but seriously? How irresponsible can you get?

And I don’t get how they were suddenly BFFs again at the end of the novel. How did Jacob even talk to Paige? I’m confused here!

Overall

I enjoyed this novel immensely. I think especially with YA contemporary novels, you tend to get a lot of the exact same things and formulas. But with this book, there was so much that was different that it made the book really stand out.

I wasn’t pleased with the plot holes and the loose ends that were not tied up properly but I think it was an altogether pretty amazing concept and story.

The charachters, while not all loveable, were very well-developed and I enjoyed learning about them.

If you’re looking for a light read with serious undertones, I strongly recommend picking this up.

*An advanced copy of this book was given to me to read and review by Penguin. All opinions however are my own*

My-Rating-4-Stars

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My 2016 Wrap Up


I’m not going to give you that ‘time flies’ nonsense today. I mean obviously time flew this year but I think I’ve done so much in these last 12 months that if I look back, I can actually account for the time. Anyway, I wanted to wrap up this year by giving you guys a little run down of my year because some memories are worth documenting.

I got my drivers licence

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In January, I finally passed my driving test (after three tries) and I got my driver’s licence. I honestly don’t know how the heck I managed to hypnotise anyone to let me be on the road legally if I’m being honest.

Anyway, in less then a month, I will be taking off the triangle that we are required to stick on our cars in the first year of getting our license and I will be officially off probation.

I won’t lie. Driving has been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I can drive but I hate it because it terrifies me to no end. As a result of that, my dad has had to literally force me behind the wheel as often as he can so that I will practice.

And while I still do have a very very long way to go, I am making progress. In fact, just last week, I took the car with my brother (who can’t drive yet) and I drove to the airport to pick up my dad who was flying back home from a business trip.

I consider that to be my first solo drive because obviously my brother could not help me if I ran into trouble. This was the first trip I’ve done without another licensed driver in the car and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

I did my first internship


This year, I did my very first internship. I did six months at Youth.SG and I enjoyed my time so much. I really grew so much in that time and I made so many friends who I still keep in contact with today.

I honestly can’t believe how much my internship shaped me. In a way, I think it forced me to grow up and to face a lot of the things that I’ve always found to be quite terrifying like meeting new people, going to new places and doing new things.

Another awesome thing was the people. As I mentioned, I made so many new friends in my internship and I really feel like we all became a sort of family. In school, I was so used to toxic people that I just expected that from Youth.SG. But instead I found some of the most genuine and loveable people ever and I am so grateful for the six months where I got to feel wanted and important.

I mean everything I did was celebrated while I was at Youth. Yes I got into trouble sometimes (for not keeping to the house style mostly oops) but I felt really valued there. Like what I wrote was important.

In fact, I went back to visit the office a few days ago and everyone was so happy to see me and it made me feel so good.

All I can say is that I am so grateful to Youth.SG and I really owe them a lot.

I covered loads of concerts


Because of my job, I got the opportunity to go for many concerts this year to review them. I saw The Sam Willows at the Music Run, Greyson Chance,  Jay Chou,  Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider, Tiffany Alvord, Gentle Bones, Selena Gomez and Simple Plan. Yup. Looking at that list I really do realise how blessed I’ve been.

I also got to meet and interview Greyson Chance, Charlie Lim and Jai Waetford which was incredible.

I covered loads of events and met loads of people


One of the best things I did this year was to freelance. I wrote for a number of other publications after I left Youth.SG and because of that (and also Youth.SG), I managed to go to a lot of very cool events and openings this year.

This year, I got to cover the Illumi Run, the launch party of the Music Run, the opening of the Friends cafe in Singapore, Singapore Writer’s Festival, the media preview of a new gameshow, media previews of movies and so much more.

These events were so much fun but above that, it really helped me to build my confidence. I can now attend an event and if I’m alone, I don’t really care. Many times, we are sent to cover events alone and because of that, I have been forced to learn how to function on my own. A skill that I previously did not have.

I put out my Working on the Dead series


This year, I pitched a very  adventurous series. If you’ve been following me for a while, you would know that this series was the Working on the Dead series. Essentially this article led me to some very crazy places.

I ended up watching two embalmings, going for a Buddhist encoffining, watching an embalmer clean and place a foetus into a coffin and even following a funeral director and a coffin to the fright terminal to watch them load the coffin into a plane. I talked to so many amazing people in the funeral industry, had some creepy experiances, broke down many times and achieved one of my biggest successes to date. It was epic.

I got two of my articles promoted on social media

One of my proudest achievements this year was that two of the articles I wrote for Youth.SG got promoted on their social media. That means that they paid Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to have my article pop up everywhere. It was really surreal especially when a  friend found one of my articles being promoted on 9Gag.

I experienced my first relationships


Okay here’s where I come clean. The boy that I was all messed up about a little while ago was the second guy. Earlier this year there was another guy who liked me and we went out and texted and that kinda stuff.

Unfortunately I just felt like he and I didn’t really get each other in the way I wanted us to so I ended it with him. Very uneventful in my opinion because I wasn’t even upset which yes, I do feel bad about because I think he actually liked me but yes. It happened.

Anyway, this year I experienced my first brush with relationships. Yes they both ended before they really began but it’s given me a lot of perspective when dealing with guys.

I read 61 books


Last year, I read 114 book. So this year was quite an insane drop to 61 books but also I know that with my internship and my cousin’s wedding, I barely had any time at all so I’m not too disappointed. I’m just glad that I reached my Goodreads goal (even though I had to tweak it here and there along the way).

I went clubbing for the first time


A while ago, I made the decision that before I turned 20, I wanted to go clubbing at least once. That very day, I got an email inviting me to cover the soft opening of Zouk’s new location in Clarke Quay.

So I went with my best friend and she and I had such a good time. We drank and I got so high and we danced and we got hit on a couple of times and I had such an incredible time. Certainly a night I’ll remember (kinda haha) for a long time to come.

The best part was that I got home at 5.30am, had breakfast with my parents and then we went straight to church without sleep because my parents’s rule (really my grandma’s rule) is that you can club till all hours as long as you make it to church still. So that was really fun.

So there you go. My year in a nutshell. Obviously a lot more happened this year but these were some of the highlights. I truly am so happy with how much I grew and learnt this year. You know a lot of good and a lot of bad happened this year but I think I can still very proudly say that this was one of the best years of my life.

I mean ever since I was 10, I’ve been working towards becoming a writer and this year, I finally got to see what it really means to be a journalist and I am so happy with my career choice. I have so much passion for what I do and this year really showed me that I can really do this for the rest of my life.

Emotionally, I grew so much stronger as well. I think getting my heart broken this year was the most devastating thing to happen and I still am feeling the aftershocks. You know every time I see a picture pop up on Instagram or when I see that he’s liked one of my pictures or that he’s watched my snapchat story. There’s always that jolt. But I’ve grown so much stronger for that and it’s only because I’ve grown stronger that I don’t regret him at all. I’m just a really sentimental person.

In some ways though, I think I’ll never love as carelessly again and that is something that I both resent and appreciate. With him being my first real something, I think I threw myself in and I allowed myself to love him with everything I had. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. I think I finally get why people say that once they’ve been hurt, it’s hard to learn to love again. I’ll never let myself be so vulnerable again.

Aside from that, meeting so many people and getting to see such cool things as part of being a journalist was such a huge part of my year. I feel like meeting all these people just opened my eyes to a world that I would have never gotten to see if I didn’t do what I do.

Just this week, I got to see a 16 week old foetus who had died a day before Christmas. I watched an embalmer wash the foetus and place her in a coffin and it was so sad but also so fascinating. I mean who gets to say that they’ve seen that? I am constantly discovering new things about my world and I love it.

2o16 will always be the year that I grew up. It will be the year that I formed some of my closest friendships. It will be the year that I learnt what it means to push yourself to your limit. What it means to be brave. What it means to be kind and gentle in the face of extreme cruelty.What it means to be mature. What it means to carry on even though your world is shattering. 2016 will always be the best year of my life and I hope it was yours as well.

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