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Writing: A Beautiful can of worms

Writing to me, it’s a beautiful can of worms. 

First of all, the good ones who give the main nutrients of joy. 

Catharsis, I feel like flying in the sky after I have finished it. To express all the emotions and the deepest thoughts that would never have seen the light of day otherwise.

Freedom, freedom of expression .The freedom to go wild and be creative allows me to fly above the limits of Singaporean society which places so much shackles on the creative spirit. Having lived my days in a restrictive society where any and all desires to create, to deviate and to stray from the conventional path are viciously stamped out. Where beautiful dreams that do not involve being a STEM corporate slave are pissed on coldly. Writing gives me that flying chance of making it, once I make it

Purpose. With writing and my dreams to become an author and make it in the industry, it gave me a purpose to fight. A purpose to fight for something. A purpose to keep going and not drift my days away. I can say that writing saved my spirit from being a completely hopeless drifting through the cosmos. It is my engine to fly above the muddy soil of mundane life. 

But at the same time, oh dear. 

I am not the kind of writer who can produce ten thousand words in a day. I’m a slow writer and getting words out actually feels like mental constipation to me. I see people complain about being an overwriter which I can never relate to. How is that a problem? I wish I could write more, I ask myself.

I am not the best at vivid descriptions either. In fact, it was my main problem with writing and that I still struggle with it to this day.

I can be quite perfectionistic which leads to me hating my raw first-draft words and lead to good old procrastination. 

I learnt that even after years of writing and being creative, I still have so much more to learn, so much more books to read and so much more to do in order to even be considered an amateur. 

But still, I opened the can of worms, and now I have to lie with them. 

Book Review: My Brother’s Spare by Shira Behore

This is an eARC I received in exchange for an honest review. 

Hello all. Today I’m going to review another amazing book, titled, My Brother’s Spare written by Shira Behore.

Summary:

The book is about a Noble named Valeria Anson teaming up with an assassin named Rowan Marrow to find her mother’s murderer. Despite her family’s objections, particularly from her father and her twin brother’s loving concern- she sets out to pursue that killer.

Writing:

The writing itself was good, it flows well and it weaves in descriptions smoothly with the narrative so it does not feel over-dumpy at certain points of the book and a description-less white-room on other parts.

Reading feels very immersive as I experience the Kingdom of Nieve through Val’s eyes. 

Who was your favourite character, and why?


My favourite character selection if I had to pick one, would be Valeria herself. Valeria is shown to be a dutiful person

Did the characters feel real to you?

Yes, especially how the characters exhibited their trauma and grief in their different ways that feel so heart-breakingly real. The ways they think, the ways they act…it’s hard not to empathize with them even if you don’t agree with their thinking. (looking at Rowan Marrow) 

Did the story keep you guessing?

Yes, it did, all the way. Not only did it keep me guessing, it kept reminding me- showed me- why does it matter so much to Val that she MUST find her mother’s killer and bring them to justice.

At some point of the story, it was as if the answers presented themselves on a silver platter to us the reader- but being a frequent reader of dark thrillers, I instinctively knew that it cannot be that simple, can it? 

And everytime I find myself asking this question, the answer I was given turns out to be even more satisfying than I could ever hope for. 

What was your favourite part of the book, and why?

My favourite part of the book was the relationship dynamic between Valeria and Rowan Marrow. Especially how their relationship developed along with the plot and the mystery unfolds. I found the character dynamic between Rowan and Val to be the most interesting out of all of them. It is a special kind of relationship- not really the romantic type, but rather, a special platonic type that cannot be defined by simply one thing- it’s so much more than that.

I also liked how closely the character arcs and development is tied with the plot progression.

Did the book make you laugh or cry?

The book was a heart-wrenching read as well as an intense action read, especially around the end where all the climax starts to unfold. So I felt mostly excitement and adrenaline, along with a lot of sadness. 

Did the story grip you and keep you turning the pages?

It did. Throughout the story, I kept getting reminded of how important Valeria views her family and how it ties to her sense of mission- which compels her to pursue her own personal investigation. 

What do you wish could be done better?

This could be just my personal preferences at play but I think that:

-The ending honestly felt a bit rushed. 

-As the story was Val and Rowan focused, I didn’t really have a reason to care about the rest of the cast. 

Other than that, overall this is a pretty solid book and I would give it 4.5 stars over 5.

As the book comes out on 24th August 2021, which is tomorrow- do keep a lookout for this amazing debut novel by Lost Island Press.

Links:

You can check out Shira Behore’s social media here:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNu6L_gPuxWxFITjTidDVjg

Instagram: @_shi_writes

Lost Island Press:

Website: https://www.lostislandpress.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/lostislandpress 

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lostislandpress/

Author interview with Piper Bee

About the author: Piper Bee is a YA author and indie storyteller who recently published Joy Summer Love Playlist, a book mainly revolving around college-bound singer Joy Becker and her romance between JIn Park along with her other relationships. Piper Bee’s debut novel is an adorable love story with a watermelon-sweet love triangle where music could change the whole game.

Questions and answers: 

1. Firstly, what do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.

Well, I’m a mom of three and that takes up a lot of my time! I love being with my kids and homeschooling, but it’s been so special to see them develop a love for books like me! So, of course I love storytelling, especially movies and TV. My favorite series is Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it hasn’t changed in well over a decade! I’m also a food-lover, which might be obvious from my book. Good food is a comfort to me, and I love trying new cuisines. I’ve even eaten snack bugs before! So, I’m pretty adventurous, but I will say, dried bugs are… very dry, haha!

2. Give us three “Good to Know” facts about your book. Tell us any fun details that would enliven your book.

The first thing is that the best experience when reading is to listen to each of the songs alongside the chapters. These songs are like themes to each of the scenes and really make it feel more vibrant! The second thing is that it has a lot of typical romance tropes, but I tried to do them my own way instead of letting them play out the way they always do. And the third thing is that, when you’re done, it’s really good to go right into the B-Sides to get the full effect of what was going on in the other characters’ minds.

3. Favourite books to give/get as gifts (list as many as u want)

I love classic literature, especially books that are beautifully produced, like with linen covers and that sort of thing. I feel like it’s hard not to appreciate the classics. So anything Jane Austen wrote, any of the main books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Alice in Wonderland or Grimm’s Fairytales are good too. I also like certain non-fiction books that have helped me in life, such as The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If I only had one book to give out forever, though, it would definitely be The Bible! Even for people who aren’t religious, there are so many interesting stories and visuals and poems in it.

4. Favourite films and music?

Films:

The Greatest Showman (counts for both!)

Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse (also has tons of good music!)

Ratatouille

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

As for music, I do listen to genres much more than artists. I love more popular music with happy synths or relaxing guitar, some 80s and 70s classics, symphonic scores, and lately a lot of jazz. One artist I’ve loved since I was young is the Canadian pop singer, Lights!

5. What did you originally want to be?

For a career? A singer or actress. I still kind of want to pursue it, but I’m glad I didn’t go into performing arts because I always, always wanted to be a mom and have a happy marriage. That was my dream and I got that! But writing was always around and I realized I could dream big with that too.

6. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Yes! I get messages in my DMs on Instagram mostly, but sometimes emails. People who go out of their way to contact me usually have tons of amazing things to say about JSLP and how it made them feel. Sometimes, when I’m brave, I ask them what their favorite scene was. Their answers vary a lot, which makes me super proud! Most of my readers really like Jin as a character, and I’m often told they really felt they were in the middle of summer when they read it, no matter what time of year they opened it!

7. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Lately, because I have an au pair to help with childcare, I try to get writing in during the afternoon. A lot of times I end up doing other author work at those times, so I will a lot of times work on things in the evenings, with breaks for dinner and putting the kids to bed. It makes a huge difference that I have a wonderful support system.

8. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Ooh, good question! I think something I do that others don’t do is that I spend almost every night in bed before I fall asleep imagining scenes and solutions in my stories. For a lot of people this would keep them up, but that kind of focus really helps me be distracted from the other stuff in life and I end up sleeping pretty well, haha!

9. What are a few goals you have for the next couple of years?

Writing-wise, I want to publish quite a few more books. I have a lot in the works that I want to share! I might try querying in the future to see if traditional publishing would work for me. But mainly, I just want to reach more readers and have fun the whole time!

10. If you had to describe your work in five words, what would they be and why?

Amusing, love-centered, bittersweet, hopeful, vibrant.

These five words are what I aim for when I set out to tell a story, so that’s why I picked them!

11. How has the pandemic changed your workflow?

Well, for one thing, since my husband never had an interruption in his work, we were fortunate enough to afford the services I needed to finish publishing JSLP in 2020, which worked out because a few of those people were out of work. So I got to go quicker than I had expected to. But, shipping and printing were precarious and took longer than I’d hoped. My ability to write hasn’t really changed much except that I homeschool a bit in the mornings now.

12. Are there any themes in writing that you would like to explore in the future?

I always feel drawn to write about how bad situations can sometimes be the only way for things to work out the best way possible. Redemption, forgiveness, and grace are themes I constantly work into my stories. I also want to offer hope with my stories.

13. If you could give new writers some advice from what you’ve learned, what would it be?

I would tell them to first, keep at it. Don’t let yourself get too distracted, just pick a time and do it, even if it’s bad or awkward. And second, fill your vision with people who encourage and inspire you. It’s especially helpful to have friends who write, so find your “writing tribe” because they might keep you afloat when life gets in the way.

14. Do you have any upcoming projects that we should look out for?

Definitely keep an eye on Project Lady, my lady and the tramp inspired fantasy romance. It’s the most likely to be revised and polished!

15. Are there any writers whom you particularly admire?

Yes! I really love the works of Scott Westerfeld, and classic authors Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien. I love how John Green approaches narratives and themes too. And my favorite childhood author was Lemony Snicket. His style is so unique and made me want to tell stories in different ways.

16. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

One of my favorite things to get ideas is to think of some virtue and make it into a person or a scene. For example, if I wanted to write about “peace” who would embody that? What scene might emanate that? But, for the books I’ve written, a lot of my inspiration was sourced from music, dreams, or bouncing ideas off of other stories that I like. I suppose the main component with all of that is emotion. If I get strong feelings from something, I tend to think about it a lot and try to turn it into a story.

Book Review: Capsule by Mel Torrefranca

I received an eARC from this author for an honest review.

Let’s start with the characters: 

I loved how the characters were written.

They all had their own opinions, their own personalities, their ups-and-downs and their traumas to work through all while battling a mysterious all-powerful video game that threatens to kill them.

The characters are also very relatable- the struggle to feel, the validity of online friendships, hustle culture to fill a void in us, mental illness, grief and loss are all concepts that hit home hard.

What did this lead to? Lots of conflict !! Woohoo. This resulted in an interesting dynamic between the three seemingly different characters who are mystically connected in more ways than the three of them themselves imagine. Then after all the trials and tribulations (and of course, arguments) Capsule put them through, they bonded. 

Plot:

I loved the concept of a whole book which happened within 24-hours, very few books do this, and even fewer do it well. 

The plot of the book was amazing and I loved how the author was able to weave backstory, character development and internal conflict between the characters themselves through the narrative. I say it’s a good blend of plot-driven and character-driven story.

Writing:

The descriptions were great, the dialogues felt realistic and the writing was very easy to follow, but still intricate. Some readers may complain about the profanity used in the book but I don’t see a problem with it. It’s not even excessive to me.

I also deeply enjoyed how flashbacks and backstory are utilized throughout the story. The author makes them integral to the plot and I felt the same way- that the memories/ backstories of all of the players in the game are so important. 

After reading this book, it…I don’t know how to describe this feeling but it felt as if I was there with the characters, playing this deadly game with them and I somehow felt personally attached to them, to the bond they had. It’s a weird feeling for me personally (and even weirder as i write this) 

All in all, I’m a big sucker for thrillers and I absolutely enjoyed it. Playing a deadly game and winning it in 24 hours is something that only Jackie Mendoza can do.

Book Review: Joy Summer Love Playlist Deluxe Edition by Piper Bee

I received an eARC for the Deluxe edition in exchange for an honest review.

The JSLP Deluxe Version comprises of three components: The Original JSLP book, the complementary short chapter stories called B-list as well as a new short story exclusive only to the Deluxe- Joy’s beach mix. So for this review, I am going to put all three components together.


1. The book was able to seamlessly feature music into the narrative so well. I also loved the way that the music chosen more or less fits the chapter vibes and the character’s mood.


2. How wholesome this book is- how all the characters are so well fleshed out and deep down good.


3. Carson. I wouldn’t say Carson is my favourite character but I really liked how he was given redemption and what many problematic male characters in books don’t get- therapy. Yes pls feature more therapy in fiction. Normally in other works, the Carson-type character will normally continue to go down a dark path and has a dark fate befall him as everyone would have chosen to give up on him. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.


4. Joy. A sweet but pushover girl finds the braves to stand up for herself and chase her dreams in the end. Who doesn’t love a story like that?


5. I like how the characters at some point of the story screw up, suffer but still get back up on their feet.


6. Jin. For once, the love interest is Asian. For once, he is not controlling, obsessive or violent. A fresh breath of air, really. One rare instance where the male love interest is that wholesome . I hope genuinely good men like Jin become more of a norm.



Included in the Deluxe version is a set of added chapters called JSLP: B-List, a bunch of side stories to complement the main JSLP book.

My thoughts on B-Sides?

I liked how B-Side fleshed out more about Joy’s world and the people around her- namely the other core 4- Lena, Cale, Jin and Carson. I had a lot of fun reading about the other core characters and their POV. This B-sides complements JSLP very well and if you go back to the OG after you read B-sides, I guarantee you that you will enjoy it even more.

I want to talk about Jin, in the main JSLP story he seemed like the picture-perfect K-Pop Oppa, but in B-sides, we see a pretty dark time in Jin’s life that gives him more depth and dimension. And by dark, I mean, REALLY dark. (JSLP can get quite dark at some points, but don’t worry, it’s still a lovely sweet story)

Now, on Joy’s Beach mix, the short story exclusive only to the Deluxe version. This story is set a year later. At this point of time, more things has happened- more “real life” type of problems started to come in.

It went from 0 to 100 real quick from the start of this story if I am keeping this review spoiler free.

Overall, my favourite part about this book is how it shows that even with the struggles (which is very true to life by the way) that come with growing up, working through with trauma, falling in love along with family relationships and ultimately, chasing your happiness, there is always happiness around the corner not matter what curveball hits you. Through the lens of Joy narrating this, it shows her strength of character and how far she has come.

The author also gives a very wise viewpoint on the topic of love through Joy’s experience and narration. It was something that comes from a place of genuinity.

About the author: You can find Piper Bee on Instagram as @piper.bee, her twitter @piperbee_author and her website https://piperbeeauthor.com/

Her books are available at her webpage, https://piperbeeauthor.com/books/

Introduction Post

Hello. I’m Varrick. Welcome to my humble blog.

I’m so glad to finally launch this.

So…who am I?

I am a recent graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, with a trade diploma in Information technology. People around me know me for being a diehard crime fiction lover and writer. My favourite works of fiction include Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Departed and the OG Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs which I will always recommend. Though I have tried my hands at other genres, my bigger and current project is, a crime novel inspired by a huge variety of crime mediums I have enjoyed as a child.

I aspire to go into film, blogging and vlogging, with being a published author my number one goal of course.

I have started to branch out to other forms and genres of writing, to cultivate my writing expertise. When I am not writing and cooking up criminal plots (it’s only for fiction, I insist), you’ll most likely find me training martial arts, working out or binge watching Youtube.

Speaking of martial arts, I started taekwondo at fifteen and got my black belt at eighteen years old, the same year I started Muay Thai and boxing.

Currently, I train Chinese Wushu. Martial arts have given me discipline and a fighting spirit. I also love to try other forms of artistic mediums, mainly drawing. I love to watch Youtube videos, reading online forums and gaming. That and of course, crime films. Recently, I have acquired a taste in military topics, and I have been reading vigorously through books, blog posts and online forums regarding them.

Why do I write? What motivates me to tell stories?


I write because since I was a little child, I tend to daydream vivid worlds, characters and the stories they form. This gave me the desire to get them out on paper and share them to the world. I found that I take immense pleasure from that. As they say, write the book you wish to read. I wrote for screwball’s sake of it till I was 15, when I decided to take it seriously.

With my truest, most heartfelt stories, I hope to show honesty, light and hence my mark in this world.

What would you expect from this blog?

Well, mostly I would post writing related posts, such as my thoughts about certain writing tropes, book reviews, or even interviews with my fellow writer friends – I already have several people in mind. But I am also open to writing about any other topic I find passion in.


So buckle up and enjoy the ride. *winks and steps on the accelerator hard*

A little guide to survive tertiary education from a trade school graduate

 1.  You don’t want to be that lost soul who realises he has nothing useful to contribute when the assignment period comes. Or that guy who feels the weight of a common test three days before. The anxiety and stress will be crippling. At this stage in school, you’ll want to avoid as much unnecessary anxiety as much as possible.

 2.  The pace is A LOT faster in poly. I’m talking about one topic for each module PER WEEK. If you’re taking let’s say 7 modules for a certain semester that is 7 topics per week. So in 7 weeks, you’re gonna have to study 49 topics in total. If you have been slacking off, well, you’re in for a lot of stress and anxiety. Try not to miss class. 

 3. You’ll need and want friends at some point, trust me on this. Especially once you see close-knit cliques of friends doing cool stuff together- be it getting mala hotpot for lunch and dinner or studying a tough module together before having deep chit chats. 

 4.  With that said, don’t lose yourself trying to be accepted, don’t lose sight of your goals (and GPA). It’s a fine line to walk, ultimately.

 5. If you want to be the popular kid, make sure you are popular for the right reasons. However, remember: Whatever popularity you amass would go all up in smoke the moment you graduate. What sticks with you for sure is your diploma, your knowledge and your experience. I’ve met popular kids that became popular for being high scorers and who have their shit together in general.

 6. Make sure you have a good relationship with your lecturers and course mentor. They are your lecturers, who you know, determine whether you fail or pass their class. That should be reason enough.  

 7.  Contribute. Contribute. Contribute.

 8.  Keep your opinions about other people to yourself. It’s good practice for the workforce. Remember that your friends have friends too.

 9. Expect a fair share of snakes. (Especially if u r in a business course, from what I’ve heard)

10. You best get a planner.

11. If you have any emotional issues or whatever, nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Seek a counsellor, talk to people you can trust before it festers. Your friends will only want to hear your vents for so long, you don’t want to ruin your relationships with people, especially at this point of your life where it is harder to make friends. 

12. Work your ass off. You’ll want to stand out for being a good student who has gone above and beyond what is expected, remember what I said in part 5. Trust me, the security of having a stellar GPA, being in the good graces of lecturers, and having a decorated resume with all sorts of extra credit is a very sweet feeling. Employers LOVE decorated resumes. Remember, polytechnic is a trade school that prepares you for the workforce.

13. 99 out of 100 students cheat in poly. No doubt about that. The real questions are 1. Who doesn’t  2. Whether they get caught 3. When do they start? You’ll be surprised to see the kids who could lie straight in a crooked bed in secondary school turning to cheating in poly

14. Cheating is a serious transgression, if caught, can lead to suspension, expulsion as well as a big dirty ass black mark. You have been warned.

15. If u r written off as creepy, toxic, or lazy by the people around you, you are done.  

16. Don’t fail any module. Do not fail at any cost, no matter what. Remodding and overloading modules isn’t nice at all.

17. If you are the kind of person who likes to study the entire school textbook before the school term starts- I got bad news for you. Your lecture notes and slides will be released on time. When I say this I mean that if you want to study from week one to five two weeks at week one, welp, too bad, you’ll only have week one. Still, if you are serious about being a GPA contender, you shouldn’t let that stop you. 

18. A man’s gotta know his limitations, especially when graduation and GPA is on the line. Remember, not all polytechnic students get to go to university. You don’t take on too much than you can handle and end up having to drop modules or flunk. 

19. If you know you cannot stay the course because you hate it/ it’s not your first choice/ you hate the lecturers or *insert reason*, make sure you think it through , talk to your family.

20. There is no faster way to burn bridges by: 

Screwing people over 

 Letting ego and anger get the better of you. 

      –     Being poorly behaved – you are considered an adult at this point, behave.

      –     Being a crybaby – like I’ve said, you are already an adult. Deal with things like an adult

      –     Money disputes

      –     Romantic issues

21. During semester breaks find some work, make some money, get some taste of the workforce. It builds up your testicular fortitude and gives you a little taste test of how earning money feels like. 

22. Many lecturers simply read off the slides but should you still go? Yes.  You need to make attendance because your record does matter.

23. You cannot be weak. I don’t just mean that in a physical way, but also, if your capabilities are weak, you are going to struggle.

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