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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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Series Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is essentially a forbidden romance between a vampire and a witch, based on All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. My first reaction: groan, cliché. I am not one for cliché and tropes. I gave A Discovery of Witches a shot though, because our protagonist witch Diana Bishop is a brilliant history professor. Well, that’s an uncliché heroine profession, and she does all these cool things like rowing, yoga, running…

I like heroines that exercise.

Okay, fine. I like heroines that exercise. I’m a deep believer of exercise. Turns out the further I watch and get into the story, the more I like it.

The Story Gets Better and Better

And the main reason is that it gets less and less cliché . I am not sure how the author did this because all the plot devices used are all “old” – in season two the vampire Matthew and the witch Diana travels back in time to Elizabethan England. I mean, isn’t time travel annoying by now? Apparently not in this series.

The time travelling in Season Two is used to build and strengthen some very important relationships, and I think that’s why it works. There was also a beautiful part in which some characters from the past sent messages to characters in the future and WOW. I’m speechless.

Despite the premise of witches and vampires, I find Diana and Matthew (the protagonist blood sucker)’s romantic relationship to be very realistic, and actually rather an ideal relationship to strive for. They’re not toxic like Edward and Bella in Twilight (I think that’s where my ban of the species started). Matthew’s got some trippy things going on due to his genetics, but everyday he tries to handle and manage it. Diana is right there next to him and she never leaves him. Bad days, good days, she’s there. They can count on each other.

I also love how Diana is such a powerful character – she never lets Matthew be too overbearing or overprotective, she reminds him of his place – and of hers.

Strong Side Characters

Aside from Diana and Matthew, this series has a whole lot of very interesting side characters and strong female characters. Other witches and vampires, the demon species (demon congresswoman Agatha Wilson is a rock star!), and some of the humans (Phoebe, damn girl) were kick-ass and really pulled me in.

All in all, I am very glad I gave this series a shot. By the way, if you’re looking for another show with kick-ass heroines, do check on the hit series Shadow and Bone.

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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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Movie Review: Cinderella 2021

Cinderella must be one of the most often retold fairy tales out there. If you like the dusty girl, bullied to misery by her stepmother and two stepsisters, then be prepared to add this rendition to your list.

Cinderella, a jukebox movie musical by Amazon prime is a fun, fresh take on the old tale. The songs chosen were hits from the 80s pops to some newly written original songs. I won’t lie, I watched it for my heroine, Idina Menzel, who played Stepmother. Yes, Elsa from Frozen and Elphaba from Wicked and now Cinderella’s Stepmother.

A Fresh Retelling

Several reasons why this version is fresh and thus worthy of your time:

  1. Ella as (Camila Cabello) is as modern as modern goes! She likes love, but doesn’t want to put a “label” on it. Presented the choice of marriage with Prince Charming or growing her business, she chooses to grow her business. She’s sassy but still the smart and kind Cinderella figure we all know.
  2. Fairy god mother is genderless? This is brilliant! Although Billy Porter only shows up for several minutes to magic up Ella’s dress, they stole the show! I absolutely loved it!
  3. Idina Menzel as Stepmother is something else. I really like how the writer reshaped this character into not just your classic villain, but someone who is actually trying to do what she really believes is best for the family. And she is material as material goes, but we all know it’s good to be material. If girls don’t have their own money, they just end up in powerless situations and are likely to be abused.
  4. Princess Gwen! What a fabulous twist and additional character! The younger sister of Prince Charming has always thought of plans and strategies for the betterment of the land, but has constantly been rebuffed by their father due to his patriarchal views. Despite this, their brother and sister vibe was rock on, and I enjoyed how they tried to support each other instead of take the other down.
  5. That leads us to the last telltale role of Cinderella: the prince. Prince Charming (Nicholas Galitzine) is a spoiled brat here, but learns some really good lessons and becomes someone who is a happy supporter to Ella’s budding career. What a nice stab at gender reversals.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this remake of Cinderella, much more than I thought I would. Want another fun Cinderella retelling? Try Marissa Meyer’s futuristic Cinder (book version), in which Cinderella is a (get ready for it) cyborg.

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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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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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Steamy Book Review: Neon Gods

Adult steamy book review time! One of my guilty pleasure reads is steamy fantasy romances, and I just recently discovered Katee Robert. Wow, nice stuff here! The first book I read from her was Neon Gods (Dark Olympus #1). Neon Gods is a retelling of the eternally fascinating Hades and Persephone myth.

Premise

I enjoyed the premise: a modern Olympus ruled by thirteen power roles according to the names of the gods and goddesses. Zeus in this series is a real evil head of the thirteen. He’s set his desires to marry Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. Persephone runs away from this scheme and escapes into the “underworld”, which is basically the whole lower side of the city under the governance of Hades.

Surprise surprise, Hades is not as evil as his reputation! Persephone also turns out to be not as plasticky as all the tabloids portray. The development of their relationship is quite cute and well done in my opinion. Some dialogue was cringeeee but hey the steam was 5 stars, I really enjoyed it.

Another aspect I enjoyed was Persephone’s relationship with her sisters Psyche, Eurydice, and Callisto.

The lower side of the city under Hades’ rule also gets some nice world-building scenes via Hades and Persephone’s excursions slash dates. These scenes provide a nice balance to the growth of their relationship, making it more fleshed out-not just from the sexual perspective.

Consent and Safe Words

In their role play games, Hades always reminds Persephone that of the safe word, and should she say it then the role-play would stop immediately. Several times Persephone checks in on herself to see if this was indeed what she wanted to be doing with Hades, a man she barely just met. Remember, it’s not about judgment, it’s about consent!

It’s not about judgment, it’s about consent.

The ending is very cute, and honestly I really enjoyed this 5-star steam read. Can’t wait for the second in the series: Electric Idol!

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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?