AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Carol Chu Mei Yin

Meet Carol Chu, a poet and a high school teacher who recently published her debut book, The World is a Dark and Lovely Place. Carol is currently holding an international giveaway on her Instagram for a copy of this book! Do enter as it is definitely worth a read!

If you are residing in Selangor, Malaysia, Carol will be attending #MYWritersFest2019 on the 16th of September in Intermark Mall. There will be another 9 authors who will be launching their books alongside Carol! You are also able to purchase a copy of The World is a Dark and Lovely Place during the event.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Chu is a high school teacher teaching English in the southern state of Johor, Malaysia which is very near to the island country of Singapore. During her free time, she reads and writes poetry. She is a self-confessed coffee addict who loves rainy days. Sometimes, she does reviews for books, crochets (obsessively) and plays the piano.

For more of her adventures, you can follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/carol_meiyin (writer account) or at www.instagram.com/cmyreads (reader account)


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ABOUT THE BOOK

The World Is A Dark And Lovely Place is a poetry book that describes nature, the fear of drowning, friendship, love and loss in a world that is at times dark but beautiful. My writings here are somewhat influenced by the classic style of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost; but the words, the mood and the settings are entirely my own.

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Read my review of it here


INTERVIEW

1. With your book launch coming up very soon, how would you introduce ‘The World is a Dark and Lovely Place’ to the public?

I wanted to write poems that are full of innocence, wonder and beauty. Initially, my writing was about the beauty of nature, then it became the beauty of friendship, love, loss, regret, and pain. If I was to introduce my book as a whole to the public, I would say this is a poetry book that tries utmost to capture beauty in a world that is lovely and yet dark, in that although the world and us as its people are not perfect but yet life on this Earth is beautiful. In essence, this book is about life and the belief that there is God who made all the beauty that surrounds us.

2. What is the inspiration behind ‘The World is a Dark and Lovely Place’ and how did you come up with that title?

My inspiration definitely comes from Robert Frost’s poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. The last four lines of his poems intrigued me and so I’ve wanted to write a book based on the feelings I felt invoked in those four lines,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I came to this book title of mine ‘The World Is A Dark And Lovely Place’ because I was truly inspired by this poem.

3. How did you choose which poems to include?

Basically, I included all my poems I’ve ever written complete, except I did not include my many incomplete bobs and pieces of scraps of poems (countless many, but all those are incomplete) and also 1 complete poem about friendship which I somehow lost. If I ever find it again, I’d see whether I’d include it in my next poetry collection. (Hopefully!)

4. As I read your poetry collection, I kept a list of my favourite poems and the list kept getting longer as I read your work! Do you have a favourite poem? Or is there one that you wanted to include but it didn’t fit the theme?

Awwws, THANK YOU for liking my poems. That means A LOT to me. I have many poems which are favourites of mine so it’s hard to choose. But if I had to choose, I’d say ‘The Old Oak Tree’ because this poem is my very first poem and what started me in poetry writing. I included all poems except many scraps and bits which are not completed as a whole poem, and I lost 1 poem somewhere, hnmmmmmm I got to try to search for it.

5. What was the hardest part of the process of publishing your book?

The hardest part is actually writing the poems, publishing is easy if you have a good publisher. Also, it’s hard waiting for results because I get over-excited and too eager so I pity my publisher sometimes. Nickey Teoh from TheInspiration Hub is a super nice person. I can never find anyone as patient as him. He explained about the publishing process and never once complained when I asked him too many questions. If you want to self-publish, it’s good to consider TheInspiration Hub as your go-to publisher because they deliver on their promises and are entirely honest about the publishing process and what needs to be done on the author’s part.

6. As a teacher by day, how did you find time to write poetry?

Writing poetry, reading books and crocheting are something I do as a passion so there’s definitely time for these 3 activities. Although I agree it’s hard to find time as I’m a teacher and teaching English to PT3 exam classes but I find joy when I’m doing these 3 hobbies of mine, because then I’d be too deeply engrossed i.e. in poetry writing to realise the world around me and in that state I find myself relaxing and in the ‘flow’ as my mind is in a completely deeper engaged level and that brings me immense satisfaction.

7. Currently, students in Malaysia are being exposed to poetry as a part of the school syllabus. As an English teacher as well as a poet, what are your views on it?

I think it’s not enough because students are only exposed to poetry on surface level. Most of my students only read when they have to and for my students, reading poetry other than the ones offered in school syllabus is very rare. I had my classes try writing poems twice this year in groups and all those are little successes but I think it stops there because for them to go into a deeper level and have their own inner motivation to write poems/poetry on their own, it takes more effort than auth I can handle on my own. Ultimately their upbringing as in their love of reading, their environment and the people around them as in family and friends and whatever else they are exposed to, play a bigger part in influencing whether they love writing poetry and whether they will try writing one or not. Or reading one, for that matter. For me, the love of poetry comes from within, and is tied deeply to the love of reading books. I adore books, so reading and writing poetry comes naturally to me.

It was definitely a lot of fun interviewing Carol as I love her work so much! Don’t forget to enter her giveaway! It closes on the 17th of September.


SKAVANSIEUR is now offering author interviews (questions regarding the author) and book interviews (questions regarding your book). Email skavansieur@gmail.com for any inquiries.

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ARC REVIEW: The World is a Dark and Lovely Place

After a whole month of not reading and posting reviews due to college workload, I’m finally back from a hiatus and ready to resume blogging! Today’s post is one that I’ve had prepared a long time ago but had to wait in order to publish it near the time of the book publication.

The author, Carol Chu, is currently holding a giveaway for her debut poetry collection on her Instagram until the 17th of September. It is open internationally so as long as you’re 18 and over and have permission to give your address, feel free to participate!

If you’re a Malaysian reader residing in Selangor, Carol will be launching her book on the 16th of September in Intermark Mall during the #MYWritersFest2019, 2PM alongside with 9 other Malaysian authors. I hope to see you guys there!

Continue reading “ARC REVIEW: The World is a Dark and Lovely Place”

REVIEW: Minus

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by Lisa Naffziger

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Beck is on her way to college, thrilled at the possibilities of the next exciting chapter, barely holding it in as she clutches her childhood favourite toy in the family car with her loving dad behind the wheel. And that’s where Beck’s shared experience with the rest of her freshman class abruptly ends and the tangled mysteries of her astonishing life start to unravel. Homeschooled and raised in isolation by the jumpy, over-protective Gill, Beck isn’t allowed online or out of the house alone. Even a quick pit stop on their quiet family road trip takes some negotiation before they finally pull into a remote gas station, where their cautiously stable peace is jolted by gunfire. Beck emerges from the restroom to find her father gone and a dead body on the floor. Beck is in the world now, and she’s beyond not ready for it.

A taut suspense thriller that challenges our perceptions of family and identity, MINUS is a coming-of-age tale where a teen’s new discoveries might be best kept in the shadows.

BOOK REVIEW

3 stars
An e-ARC was given through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I remember setting it aside around the second or third chapter just because I didn’t feel like it captivated me enough, only to get back into it another day and finishing the rest of the book in one sitting.

Minus is a fast-paced thriller, family drama that starts with a very calm car ride and the main character, Beck telling her dad that she wanted to pee. Then everything turns messy after that. Throughout the book, there was a main story and flashbacks of the past that adds on to the confusion that was happening. It didn’t really make much sense to me until it was all revealed towards the end. And even still, I was confused.

I liked the idea that someone who isn’t your biological father can be more of a father to you than the biological one. It shows that loyalty and love aren’t because of blood-relations but because of time, effort and care. I also really liked that the characters were all somehow linked which made it very interesting.

Personally, it was a little too fast-paced since half the time I was confused about the flashbacks and the whole police department/ interrogation scene/big reveal made me feel very lost about who’s who. Thankfully, everything was clear to me before the final scene.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dennis Feeheley

Meet Dennis D. Feeheley, the author of ‘Travelin Man: Across the Sahara and Beyond’, a top-selling travel memoir that reached #51 on Amazon in its category. Dennis was only 19 years old when he went on this crazy adventure across the Sahara desert with his brother. At that time, there were no phones or GPS, just two young adults going on a nearly impossible journey with very little money and no idea if they were going to make it out alive. Read on to hear about the Feeheley brothers’ journey!

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Author Dennis D. Feeheley with his top-selling travel memoir!

Continue reading “AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dennis Feeheley”

BOOK REVIEW: Parallax

1552936250.jpgParallax
by Lance J. LoRusso

get it here

BOOK SUMMARY

Step into the Minds of Law Officers as They Confront Crime

“What is the one thing all law enforcement officers have in common?
Each knows they may not come home if they do their jobs and fulfil their oaths of office.”

In the first volume of author, cop, and lawyer Lance J. LoRusso’s new series True Crime Tales, LoRusso weaves true-life tales based on experiences law enforcement officers all over the country endure every day. Be it coming face to face with a sociopathic killer, hunting down a child predator, to grieving the loss of a fallen brother in blue, the limits of these heroes’ bravery and dedication to the law know no bounds.

Each story taps into the psyche of the men and women behind the uniform, and sometimes even the perpetrator. In “Running,” LoRusso steps into the viewpoint of a cop killer on the run, while in “Parallax,” a team of officers must outmanoeuvre a crazed robber holding up a bank. The catch? An officer’s daughter is inside. No matter the narrator—lawyer, perp, or cop—each story is written with poignancy and depth, showcasing LoRusso’s own extensive experience in the realm of law enforcement.

“Parallax”, Volume 1 of True Crime Tales, delivers the spectrum of human emotion— anguish, love, terror, and gratitude — that each and every law enforcement officer experiences in his day-to-day life, one story at a time.

BOOK REVIEW
4 STARS

*I received an advance review copy from BookSirens for free, and am leaving a voluntary review.*

Despite watching many crime shows on the TV, reading it makes it seem more real. There’s a constant reminder in my head telling me that this is what some police and detectives face on a daily basis and these are stories from their lives.

I really enjoyed reading this. Sounds totally messed up since it’s a reflection of our world and this is what actually happens and what the police and detectives deal with but I’m just so intrigued. Altogether there are 5 short stories centred around different cases and situations that each cop or someone they know faced.

Parallax shares about the lives of the police and what they go through for the sake of others. You are reminded that behind the badge, there’s a person, a family, feelings, fear and aftereffects from their job. Amongst the 5 short stories, I definitely have a few favourites. Some I could tell that I would like it from the start, some others that take me longer to like it.

I really like how LoRusso wrote each description in this true-crime tales collection, from the thought process to the subtle actions, making it seem as if I am watching the whole scene right before me. I just kept on reading and reading without letting myself have the time to feel the suspense.

LoRusso is a great storyteller and it definitely makes me want to read the second volume, and the third, and fourth, as many as there are.

Mid-Year Check-In

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Hello guys! I’ve seen many bloggers do this reading check-in and thought it would be a good thing for me to do. I’ve seen people analysing their reads from the gender and race of the author to the genre and sub-genre of the book, to the race of the protagonist — itty bitty details that helped them to identify what type of books they should read next.

I figured out this would be a fun and interesting thing for me to do too and why not show you guys!
Continue reading “Mid-Year Check-In”

POPULAR BOOKFEST 2019

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The long-awaited Popular Bookfest was held on the 1st to the 9th of June during the Hari Raya holidays week. Every year, Malaysian bookworms look forward to the incredible deals from Popular Bookstore and leave the building with a ton of debt.

I was able to go twice this year and which was great for feeding my addiction to add books to my TBR and never actually reading but terrible for my bank account and I think I need to get another IKEA bookshelf.

This year’s Popular Bookfest was held in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the entrance fee was RM2.50 per ticket (free for those younger than 18 and older than 55).

Here’s what I bought:

1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

41wmScO2UaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ From Roxane Gay comes this collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

 

 

2. A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes, #1) by Jin Yong

51uCvggZ4BLChina: 1200 A.D.
The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army, is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way.

Guided by his faithful shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing must return to China – to the Garden of the Drunken Immortals in Jiaxing – to fulfil his destiny. But in a divided land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.

 

3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

9780007527526 In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumours that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects.

It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd.

 

4. The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

9780007527533There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card, he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

 

 

5. Tuesday: An Ordinary Day in an Extraordinary City by Amal Nadiah Ghazali

a10b43574f1147d6b44072aca2b89923If you think Paris is all about this fantastical image of basking in the sunshine while eating an ice cream by the Seine, or living in a fancy apartment that overlooks the whole city with a random French guy who looks like Jake Gyllenhaal, think again.

Right now I’m standing by the door of my rented studio the size of an average Malaysian kitchen, waiting for my turn to use the toilet that the whole floor has to share and when it flushes, the sound is so loud that the whole building would know you had just taken a dump.

 

6. If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

original_400_600 Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

7. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

y648 Miss Marple’s last case, Sleeping Murder, was written over 30 years before it was published and sees Miss Marple solve her final mystery.

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernise the house, she only succeeded in dredging up the past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs. In fear, Gwenda turns to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, can they solve a crime committed many years before?

 

8. The Four by Scott Galloway

412LpUNgTLLInstead of buying the myths these compa­nies broadcast, Galloway asks fundamental questions. How did the Four infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid (or boycott)? Why does the stock market forgive them for sins that would destroy other firms? And as they race to become the world’s first trillion-dollar company, can anyone chal­lenge them?

Whether you want to compete with them, do business with them, or simply live in the world they dominate, you need to understand the Four.

 

9. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

10. The 100 by Kass Morgan

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Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.


Was I happy with this year’s selection of books?
Yes.  Despite not being able to find the two books that I wanted, I was happy with the ones I’ve found.

Is it worth it?
The entrance fee is RM2.50 to access the English hall, Chinese hall, Electronics hall and the Stationery hall. The deals are either 20%, 20% off if you buy another book with the same sticker or the daily special deals (there’s a booklet for that).

I guess it’s alright if the book deal is very good (daily specials). It definitely isn’t the cheapest since there’s the Big Bad Wolf bookfair. However, I would recommend to check out those second-hand bookstores or shops online for better deals before heading to the checkout.

Any other tips to share?
1. Definitely bring a backpack! Surprising it felt very light when I carried the books on my back rather than on one shoulder or in a plastic bag. Absolutely recommend!
2. Give a call to your friends to check if they have the same book! You can reduce money that way and perhaps start a little book club!


That’s all from me today! If you’re ever considering to come to Malaysia, come on over during the Hari Raya period where there are tons of sales for all kinds of things. The Popular BookFest is definitely one to not be missed!

– J