Monday, 24 June 2019

#musicmonday: Take Over | Shane & Shane



Thirsty, I'm thirsty for you
In a dry land with no drink, I need you
I know you made a home, inside this heart of stone
So turn it into flesh, Spirit, soften it
I give you all I have, I'm holding nothing back
Jesus, I am yours Jesus, I am yours

Take over, Lover of my Soul
Take control
I surrender, there's nothing I want more
Than to know you, Lord
What am I supposed to do with all my kingdoms next to you
You're the Lord, You're the Lord
I could gain the world and more
It's all nothing next to you
My reward, my reward 

---

The Weight of Strength: Chapter 28.

The queen looks amused. “Oh please. Don’t think I’m that stupid. Your god won’t listen to you, not now that you’ve broken all your vows and there is no priest here to reconsecrate you. You’re impure and if there is one thing I know about your god, is that he doesn’t listen to those who aren’t holy enough for him.”

Ayahanda just keeps his hands up as he repeats the litany, more voices joining in. Until I join in. He turns at the sound of my voice and nods at me. 

“You who listen to the broken, hear my pleas now. I have fallen far away, I have spurned Your Word and Your call. Now You have chastised me, You have brought me to realise the error of my ways. You who are ever-gracious, ever-merciful, ever-forgiving, I pray, forgive me now. Forgive me my wandering, my fear, my doubt, my anger, my bitterness. Take it. Take it!” His voice is a broken roar, hoarse in its earnesty. 

“Oh Kudus…”

He doesn’t complete it, but every single Mahan in the hall takes up the cry, “Maha Esa, berkatilah hambaMu dengan kuasa ajaibMu.”

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Day 36: Not that far behind the #wordcountgoals, also #shakespeare

Writing comes in spurts.

I find that if I write for long hours and get about 5k to 8k in the day, I can't really write much the next day unless a) I'm under a really tight deadline, or b) it's a really exciting part of the story and I just have to keep going.

Right now I'm in the "I know what's supposed to happen but I don't know how to write it" stage so everything is just SO HARD. So I'm in procrastination mode.


Therefore, behold the great plateau.

It's getting better, though. I think. Because I HAVE A DEADLINE, so I'm panicking myself (needlessly) to actually get through writing it because once it's down I'll be able to actually edit it and make it work but as long as it's not written, it's just this nebulous cloud of idea. Or something.

---

To date I've watched three shows at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, because you can get cheap £5 tickets and stand like a peasant for 2 plus hours. It's not so bad. I have strong legs. haha.

The Merry Wives of Windsor was slightly confusing because I went in without any idea what the play was about. The second act was pretty good though. It's not quite the kind of comedy I like, but eh.

Comedy of Errors was much better, or at least I liked the storyline better, because it's more due to chance and honest mistakes rather than being... lewd. This is probably the most accessible of the plays so far. The cast for this was also very brilliant--better than the first.

Pericles was an aesthetic choice due to having read The Porpoise. If you did not have background knowledge of the myth or the source story, you'd just be very, very confused, especially since it jumps from royal family to royal family. There are also long bits of narration in between, in classic Greek drama style, so it's different, I guess.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

#bookreview: Roar | Cecilia Ahern

RoarRoar by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a brilliant, brilliant book and I want to recommend it to everyone on planet earth.

I didn't really know what to expect going in because I've never read anything by Cecilia Ahern before, and I'm mostly an exclusively SFF reader nowadays. But eh, short stories, bestselling author, about women, so why not?

Can I just say again that it's brilliant?

Because it is. Each story is a weird, sometimes too-literal, take on a common phrase, some of them quite general in nature, but all applied to a woman's life and their perceptions of the world. Like being kept on the shelf or eaten by guilt, the world is your oyster, having a strong suit and being pigeonholed.

It's a mix of normal life and mysticality, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much, because it is still very speculative in its own way. I mean, people don't ACTUALLY get swallowed up by the floor when they do something embarrassing, but one just opened up for The Woman Who Was Swallowed Up by the Floor and Who Met Lots of Other Women Down There Too, neither do they get actual literal bite marks when they're eaten by guilt in The Woman Who Found Bite Marks on Her Skin.

There's something in here for almost every woman, a myriad of perspectives of what it is like to be female in this broken and confusing world.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

#bookreview: This Green and Pleasant Land | Ayisha Malik

This Green and Pleasant LandThis Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Green and Pleasant Land is a beautiful take on the subtle and not-so-subtle racism that the Muslim community faces in Britain.

Bilal, a British-Pakistani, moves to the tiny village of Babbel's End to get away from the Pakistani community in Birmingham. All he wants is to fit in and be like everyone else, and he manages to do just that until the fateful day he decides to fulfil his mother's dying wish: to build a mosque in Babbel's End. With that one request, the people he has called friends and neighbours for the past eight years draw their battle lines, showing him their true faces: that they can only be friends if he totally repudiates his culture and his faith.

It's a very clever book. It's both very British and yet very Asian (at least, I relate to it in a multicultural, diaspora, Malaysian kind of way). It takes a hard look at the British's superiority complex, white fragility, racism, and colonialism, yet also leaves a space to air their concerns. Ayisha doesn't pull punches. Right from the start, she compares the building of this mosque to the work of Christian missionaries in foreign lands, telling Bilal that Babbel's End is his Africa (even though he doesn't want to convert anyone, he hasn't thought that far ahead).

My favourite character (and I rarely have any favourites) is Bilal's aunt, Rukhsana, who's referred to as Khala (aunt) even by people who are older than her, mostly because they keep thinking it's her name no matter how many times Bilal explains. With her terrible understanding of English and her kind and generous heart, Khala Rukhsana sets out to conquer Babbel's End, softening the heart of even Bilal's strongest enemy, Shelley Hawking, parish council chairwoman and churchwarden. Actually, she just sets out to make friends and understand this weird goya village she finds herself in now that she's staying with her nephew. And maybe feed them more zarda and wish them happiness.

All in all, Ayisha manages to tell a complex story about a very sensitive issue without casting anyone as an outright villain just for villainy's sake, highlighting instead the complexity and the nuances around religion, culture, and community. Unless, of course, you're a fragile white supremacist, in which case, you wouldn't enjoy this book.

After all these good bits, why only 4-stars though? Um, mainly because the jumping between POVs was a little jarring for me and took a while to get used to.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bonnier Zaffre via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

#bookreview: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune | Roselle Lim

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and FortuneNatalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This. This is the book I didn't know I needed to read and deserves like a million stars. Okay, a million minus maybe a few because Daniel Lee how could you. lol.

Natalie Tan finally returns home to San Francisco's Chinatown after seven years away upon the death of her mother. Tired of running, she's given the opportunity to pursue the one dream her mother had denied her: opening a restaurant. Natalie reconnects with a community she's long resented, makes startling discoveries about her Laolao and her Ma-ma, and stumbles upon her true purpose in life. Yet as trouble and disappointments start to pile up, she has to decide if this is truly what she wants and is willing to work for... or if she's going to take the easy way out by cutting ties and running. Again.

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is an endearing story of friendship and neighbourliness wrapped up in the comforts of food and music, entwining the legacy of her long-dead grandmother and her late mother's one passion. Steeped in Chinese superstition and culture, Natalie's journey of self-discovery echoes the cultural dissonance often experienced by Chinese diaspora around the world. Within the comforts of home and community lurks a larger worldview hidden beneath the surface. Cultural practices and expectations are known and yet unknown, simultaneously strange yet familiar.

There's magic in this book, but not of the normal Western fantasy type. There are no dragons or fairies, spells or incantations, no mighty demons to defeat or swords bandied about. Instead, you find Miss Tsai giving prophecies at midnight over a cup of tikuanyin, the subtle home magic of food made to solve problems--Steamed Dungeness Crabs to provide courage and bravery, Drunken Chicken Wings to reinvigorate love, Noodle Soup for luck--and Natalie's newfound ability to see the problems of her neighbours in threads of energy and light, all wrapped around the mystery of Qiao's magical recipe book.

It isn't a particularly fast-paced story. Grief is a big theme in the beginning, as is guilt, and Natalie sometimes wavers over her problems for a while before deciding what to do. Lim's explanations sometimes feel a little heavy-handed, as if she's trying too hard to clarify, yet may be necessary to bring to light the importance of other subtexts going on in the narrative. Nestled in the text are mouthwatering recipes that you just want to try making if you could bear to draw yourself away from the story. And the food metaphors. So much food. Everywhere.

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune is a book of love. Love, food, and family--including the neighbours and community that become your family in strange and distant shores.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Berkley, Penguin Publishing Group via Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Monday, 3 June 2019

#musicmonday: Dry Bones | Gungor



My soul cries out
My soul cries out for you
These bones cry out
These dry bones cry for you
To live and move
'Cause only you can raise the dead
Can lift my head up

---

I actually can't believe I haven't posted this before.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

#bookreview: This Brutal House | Niven Govinden

This Brutal HouseThis Brutal House by Niven Govinden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This Brutal House is moving, visceral; Govinden makes you live every moment, each line evoking a mood, a world.

You are there with the Mothers as they sit in silent protest on the steps of City Hall.

You are Teddy growing up broken but driven, learning to lie in order to fix things, to quietly ease things for the Mothers, using his position in City Hall to try to find a resolution.

You walk the floor to the shade of the vogue caller, living the chaos of the balls, the noise and heat of the dance floor.

---

Where This Brutal House fails, for me at least, is in its clarity. It's not enough for me to feel it. I need more concrete details. I have the bare bones of the story, but as Govinden throws us between the Mothers, Teddy and the Vogue Caller, it feels like information is falling between the cracks.

I'm not of this world of Mothers and Children and balls and drag. I don't know enough to understand the underlying meanings, to read between the lines. I don't have the history to fill in the blanks.

At the end of the book, I am left slightly confused. Emotional but confused.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Dialogue Books via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews