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Nisha 3 Title and Release Date Reveal

Who’s excited for the last installment of the Nisha trilogy!!!

In this post I will reveal the TITLE, the DATE OF RELEASE, and a short excerpt!!! If you are ready…

Drumrolls…

Yes, the third book will be titled Elements. What are the elements? And how will the Elements help Nisha, Saad, and Faris to defend their beloved little kingdom?

You can find out on 31 January 2021.

Excerpt of Elements Chapter 2 : Trade-Offs

Nisha watched silently as Elian and Ademaro began to set up three small tents in the middle of the woods. They were resting the night here, having just left her aunt, General Char, Faris, the Outer Movement Wizard, and everyone else at the Border. Ademaro and Elian had volunteered to accompany Princess Nisha in her journey to the Lair of the Order of the Witches and Wizards. Their mission was to convince the Order to send mages to support them in the fight against the Aklumites. 

This journey was about a week by horse. At the end of the first day, Nisha’s guardians chose this location of the forest to sleep. Nisha wanted to help them set up camp, but she had no idea where to even begin. In the end, she opted to watch silently, not wanting to be a hindrance. When Ademaro and Elian were finished, the Princess automatically cringed. 

“Your bedroom for the night,” Ademaro gestured with his deep voice. His kind face looked a bit sorry for her, but circumstances allowed no time for luxuries. 

“I’m sure the earth is, ah, great to sleep on,” sighed Nisha. No complaining, she reminded herself. “I suppose if I could manage sleeping on those hard bunks at the Border, I can handle sleeping on the ground.” 

“Do you mean you’ve never slept outdoors before?” asked Elian, surprised. The young archer had spent most of his childhood hunting and trekking. It was almost inconceivable to him how one could spend their lives trapped inside buildings.

Nisha blushed. “I was sheltered,” she explained pointedly. “It’s not like I had a choice in the matter.” 

“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Elian said softly, taking a step closer to Nisha. Her heart fluttered in her chest. She noticed that either by training or simply by the way he was brought up, Elian did not even rustle the leaves as he approached her. 

Ademaro tactfully walked away to take care of their horses, leaving the two youngsters to their discussion. Oh, to be young, the hardy warrior reminisced with nostalgia. 

“So what did you mean?” the Princess asked. She kept her voice steady, although the fluttering in her chest had picked up in speed and volume.


Can’t wait? ME NEITHER!!! Subscribe to my newsletter to get a sneak peek scene of Saad, Ged, and the mysterious girl they picked up.

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Book Review: Rule of Wolves (Grishaverse)

Well, well. Many a twist happens in this last installment of the Grishaverse. Rule of Wolves is quite epic in comparison to all the other previous books. The plot unfolds in poor decrepit Ravka with our dears Nikolai and Zoya. At the same time it incorporates matriarchal Shu with Tamar and Princess Ehri, and of course Nina and Hanne in cold cruel Fjerda.

First of all, I am glad we don’t spend too much time in Ravka. As I said before in King of Scars, I think Ravka’s getting old. It seems Leigh knows it because that last bit at the ending was certainly breathing in new winds of change to the conservative country.

Second of all, it’s fascinating that the title “Rule of Wolves” is not about Nikolai and Zoya, but about Nina and Hanne! Wolves refer to the wolves in Fjerda, and I love this! Talk about winds of change coming for Fjerda. This part was brilliantly done, in my opinion.

Lastly, going into Shu Han territory was…interesting. So far, Leigh has never taken her readers into Shu Han territory. Thus I enjoyed getting to know this country with its vastly different cultures and customs. I’d love to read more about Shu Han because I think Leigh is just beginning to set up this area – introducing the culture and customs to her readers.

Predictions for what’s after Rule of Wolves

The ending opens a lot of possibilities for a new adventure. It hints at the return of our favorite protagonist Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows, so I don’t think this is goodbye.

In fact, my prediction for the next installment is that Kaz will have to go into Shu Han to steal what Zoya needs, while Jesper will face up to the full measure of his true self in Ravka and die a valiant death. Inej’s ship probably will be settling scores with the slavers in Kerch, while perhaps being backed up by the ministers of Novyi Zem.

Nina? Oh Gosh. Who knows with Nina. I feel her story arc has been the most unpredictable throughout this whole series, it’s as if Leigh treats her like a wild card. Beware the Heartrender turned Joker.

In the meanwhile, I await which actor will be cast as Nikolai in Season 2 of Netflix Shadow and Bone. Ruairi O’Connor, pretty please. Also, while waiting, why not check out my Grishaverse fanfics.

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Book Review: King of Scars (Grishaverse)

Did someone say handsome, witty, funny, kind? Yes, he said it himself. Nikolai Lantsov, the current ruler of Ravka, and as the title suggests: the King of Scars.

King of Scars is the 6th book in the Grishaverse series, and if you follow this saga from Netflix Shadow and Bone then you will know that the second season is coming out soon. Which means we are all awaiting who is going to be cast as Nikolai. My absolute plea is Ruairi O’Connor from The Spanish Princess. Please, Sankta Alina, please.

Update : Sankta Alina has answered my prayers in the form of bookstagrammer @yourstrulyjulietta. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this reel she made for Mad Tea Book Club.

Back in Ravka

Sorry, got sidetracked by the King (and Ruairi). To get back to the book, King of Scars brings our adventure to Ravka with Nikolai and the Squaller Zoya Nazyalensky who is now Commander Nazyalensky, General of the Ravkan army. So, I have this little theory which is that whenever Leigh Bardugo goes back to Ravka, it feels like we enter into a very religious, conservative place governed by “shoulds”.

Zoya thinks she should behave a certain way. Nikolai thinks he should be showing a certain aura, which is problematic due to the darkness growing inside of him as a souvenir from the Darkling. Should, should, should. I love the two characters and their budding relationship, but “shoulds” always annoy me. That’s why I loved Six of Crows duology, which I think are the best two books of this series – because the characters were free of “shoulds”. The Crows just did what they had to do to survive, and that was it. Simple.

Ravka is always so unnecessarily complicated, sigh.

The highlight of this book was Nina Zenik’s adventure over in Fjerda. Nina’s character in this book is fabulous. She goes through so much and faces it, then takes it further by moving with it. Leigh Bardugo’s brilliant plan to host the two separate adventure lines worked well, because a whole book centered again in Ravka would be too similar to Shadow and Bone and would thus frankly be boring.

I got Game of Thrones vibes from this book, especially how it starts with the perspective of a minor character. The political intrigues, deceptions, and trickeries really remind me of GRRM’s writing. Not a bad thing. Just an observation.

All in all, I did enjoy Nikolai and Zoya, and even made a mild smut fanfic on these two!

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Nisha Trilogy Journey

Nisha trilogy journey, which started as a little project, has really developed into something quite delightful and fantastical. The original fantasy novella is well, novella-length (70 pages), and it was something I scribbled down at the end of March 2020. Technically, I “scribbled” it on my iphone notes app with my poor thumbs. That’s when the lockdown was first implemented in Indonesia. I think it was my way of coping with the world which was screeching to a halt.

Surprising Reception

Some of the first readers including my dear friend and editor Chriswan encouraged me by saying they enjoyed the read. I was honestly pleasantly surprised because wait people ACTUALLY LIKED the craziness sprouting out of my imagination? Is this true, or are they just being nice, says my inner critic. Even if they’re just being nice, so what, I replied to that doubtful voice.

Is this true, or are they just being nice, says my inner critic. Even if they’re just being nice, so what, I replied to that doubtful voice.

I then wrote two backstories for the supporting characters in Nisha: Faris and Saad. After about 6 months, I started writing Sacred Rituals based on the backbone of the two backstories. Sacred Rituals presented some challenges: namely my first battle scene. My too enthusiastic self also got hand injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome). That sucked, but I learned my lessons.

Again, some of the first readers encouraged me by assuring me that they liked Sacred Rituals, and that the writing grew and the sequel exceeded their expectations. This meant so much to me because I am honestly a newbie writer and have no proper training like I do in my music.

At the moment of this writing, I’ve finished the draft for the last installment of the trilogy. It is in my editor’s hands, and it is finished and written – without me getting another carpal tunnel relapse – so I’m super proud about that! I expected the back and forth editing process will take a couple of months, as does the cover illustrating process with Inez. If everything goes well, the last installment will be released sometime in the beginning of 2022.

Fingers crossed everyone stays well and healthy till the last part of the Nisha trilogy journey.


UPDATE! I’ve finished editing: we took much shorter than I predicted YEAY. So everything is on track for a public release early 2022. For impatient readers, here is a sneak peek of the cover.

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Nisha 3 Cover Sneak Peek!

Dear readers, a very special email popped into my inbox a couple weeks ago. It was from my illustrator Inez Wandita. By now, I am simply in love with her works and have complete trust that she will interpret my drafts into fabulous covers.

Inez had emailed me her ideas for the cover of the third book and the last installment of the trilogy. After observing some reviews and feedback, we decided to go back to the design of the first book cover. If you noticed, Nisha and Sacred Rituals have very different vibes and design. The reason is because the story developed and really “amped up” in the second book, so it felt necessary for that to be reflected in the cover.

We both acknowledge though, that the effect is a non-consistent look, alas. Well, we’re still learning. At least it was a beautiful learning point!

Well, here is a sneak peek of the draft design for the 3rd book!

I hope you enjoyed the little sneak peek! The draft is being edited at the moment. Finger- crossed the 3rd book will be released towards the earlier half of 2022. I’ll be posting title reveal and snippets until then, so be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get all the insider updates.

If you have read and reviewed Nisha, I want to thank you so much for helping me share Nisha’s story out there to the world.

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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!