REVIEW: Stumptown

*Last time, I shared how the year is almost ending and I am nowhere near my goal of 45 books. For the month of October, I believe I’ll be reading more poetry collections as well as graphic novels to increase the number. That, and a lot more books that don’t require me to focus so much energy and thought into it.

I’m now writing this in January. To be very transparent, I’ve been in a reading slump for the past few months and even more so in the blogging slump where though I had opinions on a book, it was difficult for me to put it into words. I sincerely respect and applaud those who are able to write reviews weekly and even monthly!


Stumptown (#1, The Case of the Girl Who Took Her Shampoo)
by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

get it here

Dex is the proprietor of Stumptown Investigations, and a fairly talented P.I. Unfortunately, she’s less adept at throwing dice than solving cases. Her recent streak has left her beyond broke – she’s into the Confederated Tribes of the Wind Coast for 18 large. But maybe Dex’s luck is about to change. Sue-Lynne, head of the Wind Coast’s casino operation, will clear Dex’ debt if she can locate Sue-Lynne’s missing granddaughter. But is this job Dex’s way out of the hole or a shove down one much much deeper?


*A copy of this book was given by Netgalley in return for an honest review.

4.5 stars

“I gamble, I drink, I smoke, and I’ve got a car that runs half the time. I just took out my second mortgage, half my bills are past due, and my mentally retarded brother pulls a steadier income than me [….] My word is all I have.”

It opens in a strange way, with Dex getting into so much trouble I wondered if I had been given the wrong volume. It starts with flashbacks, 24 hours, 8 hours, then it only becomes chronological. I didn’t hate it, but I was very confused.

Dex is around 30, gambled a number close to 5 digits, reckless, flirtatious, and has close to nothing going well in her life. When she receives a mission from Sue-Lynne to find her missing granddaughter in return to pay back her debts, she is left with close to no choice. The chase results in hitmen, bad luck for Dex, family drama, more bad luck for Dex and elements that hold a lot more depth than I expected this graphic novel to have.

The protagonist, Dex, has made some questionable life decisions however she is incredibly brilliant. She isn’t Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, instead, she is more of a mess however her misfortune and personality pays off. Despite her tough exterior, she has a caring side that she shows towards her brother. I hope to understand their relationship more in the next few volumes of the series as it did strike me as odd how her brother reacts to Dex coming back all bloodied and beaten up from time to time.

I believe the best part of the book is the second half of it. The first half was rocky, it was difficult to understand what was happening due to the time jumps, it was difficult to differentiate some characters but the second half becomes raw. You’re able to see things from the other characters’ perspective and it makes you (well, me) feel sorry for them and try to understand them in a way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m still blown away by the ending despite it being a few months since I read it.

9 Books I’m Excited to Read in 2020 + Updates

Hello there. It’s 2020 and for my first blog post, I’d like to share some of my bookish plans for the year ahead!

Before that, I’d like to sincerely apologize for my unannounced hiatus. I fell into a slump. It was expected, finishing my foundations, starting an internship, starting my first year of degree, all this happened in 2019 and it was difficult for me to balance my work and make time for reading. Instead, I spent a lot more time on YouTube and Netflix, which I really didn’t mind but need to find a balance between the three this year.

Note: I’m still on a hiatus and will be back after the 10th of January, as I am still in my college semester. I’m only here now to greet you guys with a Happy New Year and share about some books I’m interested in reading.

Last year, my goal for my Goodreads Reading Challenge was 45. Although I thought it was doable (since I was able to achieve 42 in 2018), I overestimated myself.

This year, I will be making time for some side projects, possibly trying to see if I can build up my portfolio, spend time to learn new things as well as not procrastinate for my assignments. Hence, with this in mind, I’d like to read 24 books.

It’s a rather low amount, however, I’d like to be more carefree and not feel forced to read or achieve my target. Instead, I am trying to achieve many things this year and this is only one aspect. I’ve hit a reading slump quite badly in 2019, so why not take baby steps and rekindle my love and habit for reading again.

Some Books I’m Excited to Read in 2020


As I’m typing about this right now while having Big Bang Theory playing in the background, my assignment tab open, the dread of week 14 nearing and the thought of failing my Advertising class in mind, I’m itching to pick up The Architect of Flowers.

This sparked the beginning of this post.

Some of these books are re-reads, some are half-read from 2019 (a terrible habit that I definitely need to stop), some of these are also sent by authors for a review. Others I’ve had on my shelf for a long time or may be newly bought from Big Bad Wolf last month. Either way, I’ve been excited for these books for a while and I cannot wait for my semester to be over so I can start reading!

Have you heard of any of these? Have you read them? Let me know down in the comments below!

I’ll see you next time!


We are getting extremely close to the end of 2019 and time has passed so fast. I started my second semester of university two weeks ago and am trying to make time to read daily. I have much more time this semester compared to the last since my coursework is more spread out than having to produce an A2 drawing every week.

Tokyo City

In the past month, I was able to attend my first book launch! A friend of mine, Carol, launched her book, The World is a Dark and Lovely Place during MyWritersFest2019. It was my first time attending a book launch and there were over 10 authors gathered that day to share on their newest brainchild.

In the past month, I had 3 weeks of holidays before starting my second semester. In that short amount of time, I spent my days meeting up with friends before they leave for their studies, watching Youtube videos, catching up on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Netflix and trying to get myself ready mentally for semester 2.

I didn’t do much reading but here’s a short summary of what I’ve read:

1. The Four by Scott Galloway


I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now and had my eye on it for a long time. It was only during the Popular Bookfest back in June where it was on sale and I had to buy it.

I’ve enjoyed learning about the companies and how they’ve differentiated and made a name for themselves. Galloway’s side commentary definitely made it more interesting and I really liked his style of writing and his constant salt for these companies. Nonetheless, I felt like he went out of topic and lost his point towards the last chapter.


2. A Field Guide to Color by Lisa Solomon


A Field Guide to Color was a title I requested from NetGalley after reading Anywhere, Anytime: Art. I’ve learnt more from Lisa Solomon than I had in my art classes.

I felt really motivated to do the exercises as Lisa instructed and had fun with them. This is definitely a good guide to have if you’re learning water-based colours.

Check out my review of it here.


3. Minus by Lisa Naffziger

44075549It felt long since I’ve read my last graphic novel so I decided to read this one. It was also a mystery which I really liked however, Minus felt lacking.

I didn’t really enjoy it. I thought it was okay, nothing much, but really appreciated the values and the underlying meanings within the story.

Check out my review of it here.



4. Third Year at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton


This one was a reread for me. Malory Towers is my favourite children’s series and it was pleasant to read it again as an adult and still felt the same way I did as when I was 14.

I have another 3 more books to the end of Malory Towers. I might check out St.Claire’s since it has the same gist. Either way, a wholesome story never fails to make me feel warm and happy inside.

Tokyo City (1)

Another 3 months until the end of 2019 and I have another 14 books to read before reaching my target of 45 books. With my bookshelf right at the foot of my bed, I wake up being reminded of the number of books I have yet to read.

This month, I hope to target 4 review copies. Currently, I am halfway through two review copies at the moment and am also halfway through Upper Fourth at Malory Towers.

I also hope to read some poetry books in order to increase my reading count since it isn’t as emotionally and mentally taxing as some other books.

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What are you reading this October?

REVIEW: A Field Guide to Color

When it comes to art, colour plays a big role. However, colour isn’t easy to pick up and understand immediately without the guidance of someone more knowledgable. Lisa Solomon sheds some light on how to use water-based medium and encourages the readers to take it easy, have fun and explore colour.

cover159062-mediumA Field Guide to Colour
by Lisa Solomon

purchase it here


Color is one of the most profound ways we have to express our person­alities. In this creative workbook, you’ll discover fresh ways to connect with color in your art and life. Using watercolors, gouache, or any other water-based medium, explore color theory while playing with paint through a balanced blend of color experiments and loose color meditations. Make a personal color wheel while exploring tints and shades. Experiment with color mixing while you make as many of one color as you can. Through playful prompts and artistic examples—with lots of room for painting—this inspiring workbook will change the way you relate to color.


4.5 stars
*An e-copy was given to me through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I learnt more through about colours through this book than I had in my last two semesters learning art in college (just to clarify, I’m not in a school for art but we do learn a little about it, graphite drawing mostly but a little of painting). A lot of this I wish I knew back when I was doing my assignments since it would’ve helped me to understand water-based colours better. I remember for one activity, we had to paint an avocado from reference and it was difficult to match the colours. I didn’t know which colours to mix together hence I mixed a whole bunch of colours together just to find out it wasn’t what I wanted at all and ended up wasting it.

It begins with Solomon reminding that this is just to experiment around with colour. Hence, there were many pages that were left blank for us to test out our paints. She began explaining the different types of paint, the materials needed for the exercises and gave helpful tips all around.

The book was able to clarify what hues, tints and shades are (which I can now confidently say I know) and had exercises where we learn about colour schemes, one of my weak points. Solomon also encouraged the readers to have fun and experiment through the many different exercises like making your own black, paint chart box and mixing your favourite and least favourite colours together to see what colour it makes.

I really liked the exercises since it encourages to explore the paints ourselves and giving us ideas to do so. I would’ve never thought to make as many shades or tints or variations of colour and it would definitely help me understand colour mixing more.

If you are someone who is interested in painting, do pick this up as it is easy for a beginner to understand and a beginner might even be able to understand and use paint easier after reading this. I know I would’ve been making fewer mistakes if I had a book like this to guide me when I first started.

Since I am reviewing a skill-based book, of course I had to try it out!

As for me, since I had an e-copy, my dad ordered some mix-media papers for me online a while ago and I put off testing it. I also bought a set of gouache paint when it was on sale months ago and only used some colours once so I thought this would’ve been a good time to test what I’ve learnt.


A flat lay of my tools. I ended up using the brush in the middle and changing my paints from watercolour (above) to gouache (in the next picture).


I bought another palette for my gouache that was slightly different from my watercolour so I wouldn’t mix it up. 

I ended up switching to gouache since I most of my watercolour paints have been mixed. My tube of paint had hardened and I need to find a solution another day. I didn’t want to do gouache since I put off cleaning the new palette to prep for the paints but this definitely was a good chance for me to learn my paints better.

As for the exercises, I chose to do a colour wheel since I learnt a few tips from Solomon and wanted to try it out. I also wanted to make my own black but I already liked the black provided since it was dark enough and had a consistency that was easy to paint. I can’t say the same for the purple (Mauve) though since it had an almost gel-like consistency and the colour wasn’t my thing. So in the end, I mixed a whole bunch of colours and of course, another tip, writing down what paints I used and the ratio.

I’ll definitely be trying out more exercises when I have the time!


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.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-12 at 11.37.05 PM


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 (writer account) or at (reader account)



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.

Add to Goodreads

Read my review of it here


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 for any inquiries.

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”


by Lisa Naffziger

get it here


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.


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.


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!


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

Continue reading “AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dennis Feeheley”


by Lance J. LoRusso

get it here


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.


*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


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”