Signal Boost: We Are Family

Signal Boost

 

What constitutes a family? Blood relations? Brotherhood? Closeness?

These are some of the things that bring meaning, comfort, controversy, and at times, conflict, among people. Math Paper Press, however, would just like to hear your story on what it means to be in a family – any shape, any size, any dynamic.

To be edited by Grace Chia, each story should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words and formatted into a Word document before being sent to the Editor at: gracechia@booksactually.com. The deadline for this publication is on 15 November 2014.

For more information and details about the publication, click here and let the stories begin.

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Next-in-Reading #27: Matched

Next in Reading

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Year: 2011
Publisher:
Dutton Juvenile

“That’s how I know they are dreams. Because the simple and plain and everyday things are the ones that we can never have.”

Cassia Reyes has always trusted in the Society. They schedule the lives of citizens, assign them their food, their schools, their jobs, and their future matches. When she finds out that her match was Xander, her best friend, Cassia was elated, until a “glitch” reveals another possible match for her – Ky Markham. With this knowledge, Cassia struggles with the choice she has to make – between both “matches” and living life on her own terms.

Character(s)

Ky Markham, Outcast or Outstanding?

An Aberration, Ky is socially outcast from the general society, unable to receive the same rights as a citizen. Knowing of the atrocities happening out of the province and how people will view him upon knowing his true status, Ky is incredibly street smart not only in getting around, but in keeping his ideas fresh and to himself without going insane.

His curiosity and creativity also mark him as an individual who stands out, if not an individual who is outstanding. Being able to attract attention despite him suppressing his true potential, he still has bouts of creativity escaping him in spurts – like when he teaches Cassia to write and another girl to draw. As compared to many people his age, which just pride themselves in sorting and adhering to schedules, he has the ironic freedom to do things under his own terms. As long as they are under the radar.

Theme(s)

Creativity

In the Oria Province, the capital city under the Society, everything is decided for the citizens for optimal living. Even in school and in leisure, everything was only kept to the Top 100 of all history. And in the words of Cassia, citizens sorted, they did not create (because it was bad for them).

Therefore, set in an environment where creativity was, in its general definition, not allowed, it places a penalty on things we do every day – writing, dancing, singing, creating – and things we take for granted and still keep wanting more, with more innovation, in our current world. And while we, in reality, complain about the lack of creativity, the people who want to create in Oria, appreciate every bit of creation given.

Style & Structure

Matched is told in the first person narrative, the story purely unfolding in Cassia’s view. Apart from bringing the reader into her world using the first person, the reader is also able to feel the struggle of a moderate – if Ky and Xander are considered rebels (even subtle ones) and the officials and everyone else were considered the obedient citizens. What the style did to the story was to show a certain struggle which many of us still have to deal with – questioning the system but somehow still believing that there is a glimmer of sense with the system. That, to quote John Green, “truth resists simplicity”.

In the meantime…

Stay tuned for more literary analysis and I’ll see you next week!

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Book Bites: Happy Smiley Select Books!

Book Bites

BONUS POST!

As some of you may know, the Happy Smiley Writers Group (a local genre fiction writing group) has produced a few short story collections and a collaborative novel together with Editorial Director of Two Trees Pte Ltd and writer, Rosemary Lim.

I am now incredibly excited to announce that Select Books, one of the bigger local bookstores in Singapore, has agreed to sell the entire collection of Happy Smiley and Rosemary Lim’s titles!

HatEofWbubblegumsteampunkcoverForgotten-Names-Recalled-cover
Some of the titles released: Happiness at the End of the World, Bubble G.U.M., The Steampowered Globe, Forgotten Names Recalled

Immersed in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, and History, the works of the Happy Smiley Writers Group and Rosemary Lim can now be bought on Select Books’s website. You can just click here or here for more musings of local writers and to support local bookstores and Singapore Genre Fiction.

To find out more about Two Trees Pte Ltd and the works of the Happy Smiley Writers Group, click here.

To find out more about Select Books Online, click here.

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Book Bites: My STGCC Literary Loot

Book Bites

If there was something I was incredibly grateful for this Singapore Toys, Games, and Comics Convention (apart from my awesome friends), it’s the sheer amount of comic and literary loot I managed to get.

Books Actually's Comic Strip!

Books Actually’s Comic Strip!

Books Actually made its first appearance at STGCC this year with ‘The Comic Strip’, their booth featuring new releases of indie comic books by creators like Gene Whitlock, Wayne Ree and Stephanie Raphaela Ho among others. At the same time, Troy Chin’s newest instalment of ‘The Resident Tourist’ was available as well.

I’m already done reading ‘The Unsavory Alphabet’ by Gene, a light-hearted character art book which was incredibly hilarious and very noir either way. Stephanie’s ‘Fatman and Superchub’ is very entertaining as well – Raven bought a copy of stories featuring our favourite superheroes who pretty much don’t really care about what people think about their size. I picked up a copy of Wayne’s ‘Tales from a Tiny Room’ (a collection of stories of a parallel universe) and Troy Chin’s ‘The Resident Tourist, Part 6’ for the Tiger while I was there. To find out more about these books, check out Books Actually’s online store here.

Wayne surprised to see us there. Kinda.

Wayne surprised to see us there. Kinda.

Tales from a Tiny Room, by Wayne Ree

Tales from a Tiny Room, by Wayne Ree

Gene being awesome and drawing my couple of pups. LOL.

Gene being awesome and drawing my couple of pups. LOL.

The next stop was at Benjamin Chee’s booth, where he was selling his newly-published ‘Charsiew Space’, a comic book about a galaxy where the sale and consumption of pork was prohibited. He was sharing his booth with Ray Toh, and was just next to Jerry ‘Rex Regrets’ Teo, and Annuendo Annabella.

I finished ‘Charsiew Space’ over lunch one day and it definitely kept me well-entertained. The fast-moving plot had me turning pages, and the many puns and references had me laughing off my seat. I was really glad to find out that Benjamin actually sold out all his copies at STGCC itself. So if you would like to have a glimpse of ‘Charsiew Space’, catch him at Comic Fiesta or watch out for updates here.

And that concludes my literary loot for STGCC! Sure, there were many more books from the different booths and I hope there were people who managed to get to them as well. But until then, that’s all from me and I’ll see you all next post!

With our combined literary loot!

With our combined literary loot!

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Next-in-Reading #26: Seconds

Next in Reading

 

Title: Seconds
Author: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Year: 2014
Publisher:
Ballatine Books

“All this having her cake and eating it to and also not having her cake and never eating it was… confusing?”

Sick and tired of making mistakes that have caused her to remain stagnant in life, Katie chances upon the House Spirit, and a second chance – write your mistake on a piece of paper, ingest a house mushroom, and go to bed before she wakes up with a fresh start, as if the mistake did not happen at all. However, things start to go awry when she starts abusing these mushrooms and starts to run out of second chances.

Character(s)

Katie, Perfectionist of Diminishing Returns

She is the personification of a highly-driven creative who has probably driven herself to the point of creative frustration. Impatient for her new restaurant to open quickly, Katie ends up inserting herself into any nook and cranny of her current restaurant, appearing self-centered and overbearing. It also shows when she ignores the workings of the House Spirit, going on her own way to make her own life easier despite already being given a second chance.

However, one can credit Katie to be quite sentimental and sensitive to important matters in her life – Max, Hazel, the restaurant – these aspects and people play a huge role in her life, resulting in Katie wanting everything to be perfect for her and them. Upon realising that her abuse of the second chances was fragmenting her very being and her relationships with her friends, she ends up sacrificing her own needs for what she really needed – the chance to face her life, consequences and all, and carry on.

Theme(s)

Consequence

The misconception which many tend to have is the equation of a second chance to inconsequence. With a second chance and dozens more, Katie swears to preserve her second chances, only to end up abusing them for almost everything she felt was going wrong in her life. The irony of the entire situation was that while things changed according what she generally wanted, she ended up confused and clueless on the timeframe she ended up in. While she was looking to go past her mistakes without consequence, she ended up erasing her mistakes, but with consequences she was not prepared for.

Style & Structure

Apart from the fact that Seconds was presented as a graphic novel, the story was as split as the many universes within it – the main story, and the many revisions of Katie’s life that go through her head as she goes to sleep. It not only represents how life can be as confusing or as linear as we make it out to be, but also the fragmented thoughts which can jump across the different plains of “What Ifs”.

In the meantime…

So that’s it for now, stay tuned for another book as I see you next week!

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Decode: Adventure: Penang – Places

Decode Adventure

And everything in between!

Apart from its Art, Museums, and Food, Penang is also not without natural charm. Two of the places which did leave some good memories – Penang Hill and Gurney Plaza – provided good photo opportunities and an excuse to just take a walk.

Penang Hill

If you were to ask me, I would say go to Penang Hill if you wanted a tram ride different from what you are used to, and a cool breeze as compared to the otherwise humid, city air.

At the foot of the hill.

At the foot of the hill.

Our ticket to the ride =)

Our ticket to the ride =)

Through the ages

Through the ages

And up we go!

And up we go!

Malaysians paid RM8 (Senior Citizens – RM 4) while foreigners paid RM30 for the tram ride up. Over the years, the trams have gone from their open, rustic design, to a more modern, speedy model. While the track itself hardly changed over the years, it has been developed and enhanced to give visitors the exhilarating view of the hill as it brings them from the bottom to its summit within 10 minutes.

The summit has a few places – a couple of cafes, an owl museum (that cost RM10 to enter so we didn’t really go in), a rope course for kids, and a few places of worship. While there was nothing too spectacular, it was still a nice place to take a walk, have a cool breeze, and enjoy the view. (Too bad it was quite hazy while we were there)

Yes, there was a LOVE "bridge" up there. LOL.

Yes, there was a LOVE “bridge” up there. LOL.

The hazy view.

The hazy view.

Getting up close to the carriages of the past.

Getting up close to the carriages of the past.

Gurney Plaza

I’ve only been to Gurney Plaza once – when I was 13. 13 years later, it has certainly expanded and changed a whole lot. Once just a single building with hardly anything open, it is now a huge shopping complex consisting of Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon, and G Hotel. We went there for a walk after dinner on the 2nd night.

Apart from the strange comfort I got from visiting another huge mall in a different country, what I felt stood out about this place was something known as “Penang on 6”, which was a place where visitors could take photographs of old-style Asia, complete with old movie posters and street-side stalls.

Gurney Paragon at night.

Gurney Paragon at night.

On Level 6 of Gurney Plaza!

On Level 6 of Gurney Plaza!

Blast from the past.

Blast from the past.

And old movie posters.

And old movie posters.

A slight bit of modern betrayal here. If you can spot it.

A slight bit of modern betrayal here. If you can spot it.

While we did not get to spend much time there, I do hope we get to walk around this shopping area a bit more in the future.

P/S – If you would like to follow our posts on our Penang trip, just search for the tag “penang adventure 2014”.

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Next-in-Reading #25: Biophilia

Next in Reading

Title: Biophilia
Author: Wena Poon
Year: 2006
Publisher:
BookSurge Publishing

“Note to self: never get slapped twice by a polar bear. Especially a Nagy polar bear. You may not survive the second time.”

When Imogen gets transported to Nagy, she meets talking animals (Gromer, the wise overseer Polar Bear and Tristram, the common sergeant in many battles, to name a few) and learns of the parallel wars each universe is going through. Not to miss what could be the most interesting experience of her life, she ropes in Kai as they join the side of the animal allies against the Penumbra, human-like zombies bent on expanding industrialisation on Nagy. 

Character(s)

Imogen Park, Sophisticated WildChild

Introduced as a rebellious, independent girl in the beginning of the book, Imogen is quick-witted and highly-adaptable – getting used to Nagy within days and being able to switch jobs without much complaint for the sake of survival. However, what many may miss out is how Imogen is quite the sentimental.

Despite seeming to give up her dream as a writer in New York City, she continues to muse with her best friend, Kai Montserrat. At the same time, she insisted on bringing Kai to Nagy, placing their friendship above all else. Their dynamic already embedded into her being, Imogen recognises the importance of Kai’s presence in her life, risking missions in Nagy to ensure that this best friend of hers remains alive.

Theme(s)

Environmental Protection and Freedom

Earth is in constant war over resources. Nagy is in constant war over land and sea. Earth’s enemies are its own people. Nagy’s enemies are the Penumbra – often placed with descriptions parallel to that of humans.

The title of the novel itself, Biophilia, speaks of the love of flora and fauna. On Earth, Imogen often voices her displeasure at how humans are attacking each other due to their own carelessness in the past. Conversely, she feels free on Nagy, which is much bigger than Earth itself, and where animals ruled with nature – the talking animals show her and each other more respect for their capabilities, despite their differences.

However, it could also be due to Imogen’s crave for freedom – she was able to do most things without restriction, as compared to all the laws she had to face when she was back on Earth.

Style & Structure

Biophilia was told in the first-person perspective of Imogen, which, like many other first-person novel, immerses the reader into the world which has been built by the author. At the same time, the flashbacks between Imogen’s life on Earth before her landing in Nagy may be slightly disorientating at first, but it also reflects the complexity of the human mind, together with how easily distracted we are in this age of countless needs.

The Biophilia series is written by Wena Poon. You can find out more about the series and her works here.

In the meantime…

And with the start of September settled, I’ll see you next week!

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