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First Nisha FanArt!

The first of hopefully many many more Nisha FanArt! This is a super cute piece of work I commissioned from Mary, a talented young Indonesian digital artist.

The scene is from Chapter 16 of the first book. Nisha, Faris, and Saad are at the Border, trying to help General Char in her efforts to defend their kingdom from neighboring invasions. Faris has an idea which will eventually be a huge asset to their efforts. His idea is rooted from when he was a child, training with his Outer Movement magic under the guidance of his parents.

However, in order for Faris’ suggestion to work, it requires Saad to link and channel the Outer Movement Magic which Faris practices with the Inner Movement Magic which Nisha practices.

This scene is one of the most memorable scenes when I read the book. It shows the characters’ companionship forming as they work together, and I thought it was a beautiful scene to illustrate.

mary

Without further ado, here is the illustration!

Meet the Artist

Mary

Mary is a 16 year old digital artist whom I met through the Mad Tea Book Club. At this time, she is also a volunteer board member of the book club.

Q: Why digital medium?

A: I think digital suits me the most. I’ve always preferred working in digital over other art mediums.

Q: When and where did you learn drawing?

A: I started to draw seriously around 6th grade and was self-taught for almost 4 years until I went to art school.

Q: How did you come to love drawing?

A: In 6th grade, I fell in love with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I watched the fanart speedpaint on Youtube of this book (?). I watched countless of videos until one day I decided to try to make my own. I tried to follow their process. The result wasn’t the best but I was proud of it and enjoyed making them. So I kept practicing and making more fanart, until today!

Q: What is your dream job?

A: I’ve always dreamed to be a book cover artist or childrens’ book illustrator! Oh to be able to bring other talented people’s stories to life and see my illustrations on stores’ shelves!

Keep updated with Mary’s journey and dreams via her Instagram profile – where you can find more of her illustrations!

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Book Review: Crooked Kingdom

Leigh Bardugo definitely notches up her writing game with the Six of Crows duology. Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows and the fifth book in the Grishaverse. In this installment, Kaz Brekker and his band of thieves and thugs conclude their grand heist, which began in Six of Crows.

Character Development

The story arcs of Kaz and Inej, the Suli assassin indebted to him were just beautiful here. Fans of Kaz-Inej relationship will be very happy. Nina Zenik played a smaller part in this book in comparison to Six of Crows, but that’s alright because in the next duology (book 6 and 7 of Grishaverse), she is HUGE. Like larger than life. In this book however, well. Let’s just say I know all too well the horrors she has to go through in Crooked Kingdom. Enough said or it will spoil the ending.

I think that Jesper’s character was developed very well and brought to a nice ripe growth, especially with the appearance of someone special to him. Jesper started off as someone unwilling to face his true identity. He masked sorrows with a huge addiction to gambling and adrenaline. Through his adventures in Crooked Kingdom, however, he is able to somewhat come to terms with himself. I can almost smell future development for Jesper! What will a bright energetic person like Jesper be able to pull off once he has fully acknowledged his strengths and weaknesses? I can’t wait to see.

Full of Deceit and Trickery

With a grand heist, layers of deception from the antagonists and the protagonists (read: Kaz Brekker’s schemes), Crooked Kingdom can honestly be a bit tricky. Leigh Bardugo also employs a lot of flashbacks to flesh out the backstory of her characters, which I loved. I really enjoyed getting to know them better. However, I wonder if there is another way to pull this off so that it’s not so confusing to the main plot. I can see it working extremely well in movie format though. And I’ve heard rumors of a Six of Crows spinoff by Netflix…

I also must mention that as much as I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s poetic writing, I feel sometimes it got bit carried away. As a result, some descriptions were a bit unclear for me because it went into the realm of poetry instead of being crisp and clear about what was going on.

All in all, I loved Six of Crows duology – so much that I even wrote a fanfic of it! Check out my Six of Crows fanfic ,told from Jesper’s point of view.

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Book Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows duology consists of Six of Crows and its sequel Crooked Kingdom. Both books take place in the Grisha Universe (the fans know it as Grishaverse) created by Leigh Bardugo. The original trilogy, Shadow and Bone, is now a hit Netflix series which was excellently done. Having watched the first season and read the original trilogy, I recommend just watching the Netflix version. HOWEVER.

“No mourners. No funerals.”

six of crows

When it comes to Six of Crows, this is a definite must read. While the original trilogy takes place largely in Ravka, Six of Crows centers around Kerch – an island country built on trade and commerce. In a setting where everything is regulated by its price in the market, our criminal heroes rise from the slums to grandiose glory.

The Gang of Misfits

Okay, not quite. At least, not YET in Six of Crows. Six misfits and rejects, suffering various traumas, gather together under the command of the ultimate bad boy / gang leader Kaz Brekker. What is so special about Kaz is that he is a cripple. But don’t underestimate his cane because it might just very well crush your head. Kaz’s love interest and second-in-command is Inej Ghafa. Inej is an acrobat turned slave-whore because she was stolen from her family by slavers and sold into the Menagerie, an elite whore house in Ketterdam. Kaz pays off her debts and recruits her to be his Wraith (secret intelligence aka information gatherer) slash assassin. Their relationship is one of the most interesting couple relationships in fantasy, because of the traumas they have gone through.

Jesper Fahey, an excellent shooter and horrible gambler is the third in their crew. Hailing from the farmlands of Novyi Zem, Jesper is embroiled in gambling debt. He desperately needs the money from a grand heist the crew has been hired to do. For this grand heist, Kaz recruits the remaining three: Nina Zenik, Matthias Helvar, and Wylan. If you’re starting to think Ocean’s Eleven, YES. That’s the vibe, but with a lot of Grishas involved.

One of the most dangerous Grisha ever is indeed Nina Zenik, a Heartrender (Grisha who can manipulate heart pressure in humans) who just happens to be in love with Matthias, a Fjerdan who hunts Grisha for a living. Obviously their relationship is tricky, to say the least. Half the time they are trying to kill each other, and the other half of the time they are saving each other. Wylan, the last addition to their crew, starts off being rather dull, but slowly grows in importance throughout the book (can’t say more or it will be a spoiler).

The Relationships

As much as this book is centered around the grand heist that this crew has been hired to pull off, it is also about their relationships with each other and with themselves. All of the six have major life issues they have to deal with. In the course of their impossible task, they find themselves – and each other.

I’ve grown so attached to these characters that I wrote a Six of Crows fanfic! Enjoy my little take of these Ketterdam gangsters.

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Sacred Rituals Cover Art (Step by Step)

Inez Wandita, the incredibly talented cover illustrator that I work with, has generously shared these drafts for everyone to see! Her cover of Nisha was a real hit with readers, and if you want to see the Nisha step-by-step you can check it out here.

Creative Process

Interestingly you will see that her creative process is completely different for Nisha and Sacred Rituals. Inez confided to me that after reading the draft of Sacred Rituals, she immediately had a vision for the cover. Thus the first draft was already rather fleshed out, in comparison to Nisha’s first draft.

We changed some things so that it was more clear who was on which side. Saad and Faris are on the left facing off against Hans and the Aklum Captain on the right side. A very prominent part of this design is the eyes on the top of the page, which signify Nisha’s deeper awakening and understanding of her own powers, namely the Inner Movement magic which she practices. This becomes a key part of the battle scene, so I thought it was cover-worthy indeed.

Have you read Sacred Rituals? What did you think about the choice of design for the cover? Let me know in the comments!

If you haven’t read Sacred Rituals, you can purchase it at the shop. If you are a book reviewer and would like to exchange for an honest review, simply contact me.

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My Kindle Tour

Do you have an e-reader? Do you still remember the first time you got it? I have one of the first editions of the Amazon Kindle, which I got way back in my last year of college in Michigan, USA. This is something like 10+ years ago. Well, 13 years, to be precise.

Sometimes I have to really punch (the buttons), but other than that it’s still working splendidly!

The device is still with me, carried almost everywhere I go, faithful and beloved. It’s gotten a bit slower and the buttons must have accumulated dirt throughout the years. Sometimes I have to really punch it, but other than that it’s still working splendidly! It’s not a color kindle so I’m still experiencing everything on it black and white.

The Contents of My Kindle

My digital library is divided into 16 categories, totaling 297 books. The winner is fantasy at 99 books-no surprise. Following that is nonfiction at 42 books, classics at 35 books, and fiction at 34 books. The others are much smaller categories.

However, I have separate categories for Harry Potter (7), Diana Wynne Jones (21), and Shannon Hale (11). These are all fantasy books/authors, so the whomping total is 124 fantasy titles! Indeed I’m a fantasy geek, and I’ve always found my escapism in other magical universes.

Nose in a (digital) book.

Surprise or not, I do also read hot steamy stuff aka smut, but the titles I keep only total to 6 titles. I think I’m very picky about the type of smut I read because I’ve realized it’s not just about the sex! The most rewarding steamy books also deliver on plot, character development, and relationships with each other.

Last but not least, I do have a category for my writings (Nisha, Sacred Rituals, and more). Let me tell you even though it’s just a kindle, even though it’s just a digital copy, and even though it might just be on my own kindle library…I’m super proud of myself for contributing some titles to this little girl’s collection.

I hope you enjoyed my kindle tour! What’s on yours? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review : A Court of Silver Flames

A Court of Silver Flames is the newest, steamiest book in Sarah J Maas‘ series A Court of Thorns and Roses. Nesta Archeron, the older sister of Feyre Acheron, is the heroine (or rather, antiheroine) of this book. Careful, spoilers ahead.

Nesta Archeron

Nesta was changed into a faerie when she was forcefully dipped into the cauldron by the evil King of Hybern. In the process, Nesta’s will of steel won. She made a pact with the cauldron, taking more from its dark powers than it wanted to give her.

As a result, Nesta has unimaginable powers which make even Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, shudder with fear. What would happen if Nesta turned all dark and decided to unleash her powers? Of course, it doesn’t help that Nesta is also emotionally traumatized over the death of the Acheron sisters’ father. She spirals down a pit of frustration, despair, turning to alcohol and sex to keep her body going. Here Feyre steps in and commands an intervention.

Nesta is moved to the House, a magical place on top of ten thousand stairs that could be reached only by climbing those stairs or flying. For those that do not have wings like Rhysand, Azriel, or handsome Cassian, then they had to be carried by one of those three hot guys. Not too difficult, considering Nesta and Cassian’s undeniable attraction for each other.

“Nessian” Steam

In addition to being relocated to a safer environment, Nesta is also required to do physical training. Guess who her trainer is? None other than the General of the Ilyrian army: Cassian himself.

Words of warning: A Court of Silver Flames has a lot of smut. Nesta and Cassian (or “Nessian” as the fandom calls it) are steamy hot. At some point they are friends-with-benefits with each other, which always makes for juicy relationship yumminess. I do like this, but A Court of Silver Flames was not branded as smut so some readers might have a problem with that, cuz really there was a lot of sex.

Another aspect that I liked was the Valkyries, an order of women warriors which Nesta reinstated with the help of some friends: Gwen and Emerie. This friendship was a pleasant surprise.

Overall I thought this book was long and to be frank boring plot wise, mostly because the author uses exactly the same twist devices as she did for the previous books. It did have some bright moments here and there though. I honestly kept going because of the delicious smut scenes. An author I would recommend if you like dark steamy books is Katee Robert.

Have you read A Court of Silver Flames? What did you think?

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Nisha Cover Art Process

A lot of my readers mentioned how much they loved the Nisha cover illustration by Inez, so Inez and I decided to share the step by step of Nisha cover art process!

A very interesting thing to note for the Nisha cover art process is that Inez picked up the leaves of the magical forest to be the background of the book. As readers of Sacred Rituals will know, these particular leaves become incredibly important later on. Funny thing is, Inez illustrated the cover even before I began writing the second book. So there was definitely a bit of cosmic intervention there!

Pretty cool stuff eh? You can purchase Nisha here for reading, or even get the audiobook which I narrated!

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Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury is the second novel in Sarah J Maas’ hit series: A Court of Thorns and Roses. My review of the first book can be found on my Goodreads here. With regards to A Court of Mist and Fury, I went through several stages. At first I was completely hooked, reading until 4 AM to keep seeing what would happen. How would the relationships play out? However, on second and third look, some things started to bug me.

Plot

A Court of Mist and Fury continues after Feyre broke Amarintha’s curse on the land, releasing all the High Lord’s powers. She returns with Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, back to his hillside castle to rebuild the court and prepare for their wedding ceremony. As we all know though, nothing can pull a couple apart as effectively as WEDDING PLANNING! It is the perfect time to get cold feet and to see all the bad sides of your partner. In this couple’s situation, Feyre finds out undercurrents of Tamlin’s possessive character which suffocates Feyre emotionally.

As their relationship breaks down, along comes Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court. This love triangle happens with the threat of the King of Hybern in the background, looming to destroy their lands with his massive army.

To be fair to the author, I am in love with Rhysand’s character. The friends he surrounds himself with ie the Inner Court: Amren, Azriel, Mor, and Cassian is a fun collection of characters that provides ample development in the future. Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship is probably now one of my favorite fantasy couples.

However…many of the readers of the first book cried out against the inconsistency of how Tamlin’s character gets broken down in A Court of Mist and Fury. All the while SJM lifts up Rhysand’s character despite the horrible things he did in the first book. I agree with this. It does feel like SJM got sidetracked developing Rhysand’s arc. As such, she decided Rhysand instead of Tamlin to be the ultimate love for our heroine.

Another protest is the word “mate” which gets thrown around quite an awful lot. Many reviewers didn’t like this. Again, I have to agree. It’s extremely cliche.

Too Humancentric

My last completely subjective disappointment is that everything feels too humancentric. The faeries and other creatures are all humanoid creatures, nothing of a different species flavor. The reason I like the dragon trope in fantasy books is that they remind us that humans aren’t really all as cool as we think we are. A complete world would have billions of crazy wild plants and organisms big and small which make the web of life so diverse. A series which does this very well is Nancy Springer’s Book of Isle.

A universe filled with just humans or human-ish characters ends up being too monotone for me.

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Nisha, Faris, and Saad Aesthetics

Aesthetics seem to be the rage these days on booktok – another fascinating phenomena pushing books up the charts. Of course, copycat me decides to hop on the aesthetics trend and make some of my own. An aesthetic on TikTok is basically a highly stylized visual compilation synchronized with music. The visuals are usually taken from Pinterest, and it is combined to represent the topic / plot / story. So you can make a book aesthetic, a home aesthetic, a summer fashion aesthetic, or pretty much any other aesthetic you want to make.

I made 3 aesthetics for main character of the Nishaverse. Here is Nisha’s aesthetic.

Faris’ aesthetic is from his backstory in Scenes from Faris’ Childhood. This also acts as the prologue to Sacred Rituals.

@airinefferin

Sacred Rituals aesthetic. Read prologue free at airinefferin.com. Book coming out July 1st. #sacredrituals #fantasy #booktok #mybook #author #booktik

♬ Fantasy Adventure – Josh Rousseau

Last but not least, Saad’s aesthetic. The Fisherman’s Story is a short story of Saad’s past embedded within Sacred Rituals. I’m not completely happy with the Captain depiction, but ah well.

@airinefferin

The Fisherman’s Story is a short story embedded in my second fantasy novella Sacred Rituals. Available on my website airinefferin.com 🤩 #booktok

♬ Heroic Pirate Music – Augustin C

Which do you like best? As always, if you are an independent reviewer and would like to read my books in exchange for an honest review, let’s get in touch!

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Book Review: Winter (Lunar Chronicles)

Winter is the thick and satisfying conclusion of Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Beginning with Cinder (a retelling of Cinderella), and ending with Winter (a retelling of Snow White), I have to say I am officially a fan of this series.

Fresh Retellings

One of the reasons I dig Marissa Meyer’s fairy tale retellings so much is because she does a great job balancing the familiar framework of old fairy tales with new twists and turns. This freshness gives the old stories new life. In The Lunar Chronicles, she weaves hit manga Sailor Moon into the narrative, and voila, you have a recipe for amazingness. It doesn’t stop there, however. Many authors have great recipes but fail in the execution. Here is where I truly appreciate Marissa Meyer because her execution was brilliant. Not too slow, not too fast, just the right amount of interpersonal drama against the backdrop of an intergalactic war.

Winter and Jacin’s Relationship

I’ve said that of all the relationships in this series, my favorite is Cinder and Kai. However, there is something lovely about Winter and Jacin’s relationship which essentially began when they were kids. They grew up together, and they both knew that for the other, there would be one else. They never questioned each other’s loyalty and love no matter how suspicious it certainly looked at times. Their trust for each other was absolute, and that is just beautiful. I don’t know how often this happens in real life, or if it ever actually happens. But surely this is the ideal relationship goal for everyone.

Worthy Ending

This whole adventure began with Cinder, and after falling in love, heartbreaks, kidnaps, fingers being cut, revolutions, the author had Cinder tying up all the loose ends quite nicely. I enjoyed the delicious length of the ending being prepared, and all in all, was very pleased. Five Stars for Winter.

If you want to read a fanfic I wrote based on this series, read Winter and the Komodo Dragon.