I’ll be honest, I’ve never celebrated Halloween in earnest. I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere where the end of October is synonymous with sunshine at 7PM and spring flowers, which is completely at odds with thoughts of witching hour and horror movies. I always love an excuse to sink into a dark story, though – so I celebrate Halloween by consuming atmospheric books, scary podcasts, and watching thrillers. Read on if you would like to know what I’ve been checking out this October!
Title: The Grace of Kings
Author: Ken Liu
Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 4/5 Stars
In a genre inundated with tall-tales of reluctant white heroes fulfilling their Destiny, Ken Liu’s voice unabashedly stands apart. He is a constant innovator, whether it’s with his short fiction, full length novel, or translated work. At the same time, he also showcase the roots of his identity via the incorporation of Chinese history and mythology in all his writing. The Grace of Kings embodies Ken Liu’s style completely, fusing his unique voice with an ambitious saga about war, governance, and people who defy destiny.
The Grace of Kings is told via a series of interconnected chapters, each giving the reader an insight to the many characters that populate this vast world. The character featured may only fleet in and out of the narrative, or reappear numerous times to emerge as a central figure to the tale – but each of their story felt crucial to the overarching epic.Ken Liu’s mastery over short fiction is evident by his previous works such as The Paper Menagerie, and I loved seeing these skills applied on a grander scale to create the rich tapestry of The Dandelion Dynasty. Although each chapters felt episodic, there was a constant sense of momentum and urgency throughout the text, making this a constantly engaging read despite its hefty length. Continue reading “Book Review: The Grace of Kings”
Title: Not Your Sidekick
Author: C. B. Lee
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Series? Yes, 1 of 3.
Do you remember Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson? That series where super powered humans emerge in a post-apocalyptic world, quickly dividing society into factions? Well, I have good news for those who enjoyed it – Not Your Sidekick gives you a similar premise, but filled with a whole lot more of diversity and heart. Although it dresses up in superhero capes and fun action – at its heart Not Your Sidekick is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever felt the yearning to be a part of something more.
Comic book superheroes and supervillains gets a makeover in Not Yout Sidekick. Aside from action sequences and save-the-world type plotlines, we also get an introspective and character centred novel. While the book was extremely fun during its engaging action scenes and exposition, it shined brightest due to the lovable and diverse cast of characters. Alongside with saving the day, Jess and the crew also have to contend with romantic mixed signals, embarrassing siblings, and the difficulties of finding gainful employment without work experience. It’s comic superheroes at their most relatable. Continue reading “Book Review: Not Your Sidekick”
A post recommending short stories is the closest I will ever come to celebrating Halloween. The holiday just seems so incongruous with the Australian summer, and I did not even know of its existence while growing up in Vietnam.
On the other hand, I am someone who’s always been morbidly fascinated by ghost stories and grisly horror. I am particularly invested if there’s a cultural or human element to the story, my faint heart vastly prefers a solid story of human tragedy to an all-out gore fest. This short recommendation list will include a couple of short stories I read throughout the week leading up to Halloween, they all feature diverse author and/or characters.
Trigger Warning for most of the stories for blood and violence. Continue reading “Halloween 2016: Diverse Horror”
If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.
Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.
To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!
We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.
Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always. Continue reading “Recs: Diverse SFF Short Stories”
I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how I do my blog graphics and which program I use. In reality, I use a happy marriage of Photoshop CS5 + Freepik + Creative Market. However, I am well aware that not many people have access to Photoshop. Today, I’m listing out a few apps I’ve used in the past to create graphics, for these, all you need is a smart phone or tablet! They are great because:
- They’re easy to use, no more reading tutorials on Photoshop for hours!
- You’re able to work on your blog anywhere, you don’t have to be limited by lack of laptop or computer, this will appeal to all your dedicated bloggers!
- They’re (mostly) free!
Typography is one of my great weaknesses and I am trying to improve. With Word Swag, I can quickly whip up Tumblr worthy edits with time to spare.
PROS: Legible but aesthetically pleasing fonts, plenty of variety in terms of style, very user friendly. You can use both your own images or from a bank of photos with free royalty.
CONS: Some in=app purchases required, however there’s plenty of free content. Can’t add shadows or gradients to the text itself, limiting the variety of looks and sacrificing legibility at times. Limited to square crops. Continue reading “Design Guide: 4 Apps for Design Success”