Book Review: Gus by Kim Holden

23389993.jpgRealistic. Painful. Literally one of the best romance books that I’ve ever read. Bright Side teaches us that in every aspect of life – there are ups and down and in every negativity we experience, we just have to find the good in a situation. It will make our day more tolerable than we thought we couldn’t. Bright side, Kate, has a lot of influence with Gus and with this second book that focuses on Gus’ griefs, pain, longing, accepting and moving on. Provide us with intricate details of how a musician tackles his own diversity with emotions and feelings that made him in pain for days – for a week, and even for months.

Kim Holden didn’t just give us a story, it is a life that embodies true life stories that who knows out there people are experiencing without us knowing. It is painful and yet fulfilling, depressing but it was inspiring and above all realistically excruciating but uplifting all the same. Here in Gus, we would see the past that he shared with Bright Side, his relationship with Kate’s mom and how satisfying it is that you got your band members with you – longing – celebrating – remembering Kate’s presence.

It made my eyes tears because of the things that Gus has to go through of accepting and accepting that he’s been in love but never got to say the things that he should have. Regret is easily flowing in this book. Nevertheless, the lesson also can be acquired. And this book exudes outstanding friendship, family and being a part of a group where they will understand and accept you for who you are.

It touched my core and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read Gus as raw as my feelings, as raw as it felt like as if I’m reading a life story, a biography even. And the best part is – Gus finding someone who can make him fragile, vulnerable and the one that outstands among others, make him whole without removing Kate in his life. 

Gus is a book that you will never forget. It will drive you crazy, it will make you in tears, it will love you, care for you, make you in pain. But among this experiences, isn’t that what life has to offer to build a stable, worthy, may be broken but a beautiful soul? 


7445352.jpgSome of my favorite things: reading, writing, the two coolest guys on the planet (my husband and son), my bicycle (my husband built it for me), Facebook (I’m fairly certain it’s an addiction at this point), iced coffee (hazelnut), and music (LOVE Sunset Sons, the 1975, Dredg, the xx, Balance and Composure, Teenage Bottlerocket, and 30 Seconds to Mars). I also love dreaming, which brings me to my next point. I have one bit of advice for anyone reading this … follow your dreams. It’s never too late. Get started today … heck get started RIGHT NOW! I wanted to write a book 20 years ago. Instead I waited. And waited. I should’ve been writing. But I didn’t. I don’t do regrets, because the past is just that, the past. But let me tell you there’s nothing in the world like achieving something you’ve dreamt about for years and years. So, get started. Make your dreams reality.
I love to hear from other readers. Send me a message or find me on Facebook ( and tell what’s up in your reading world.


Interview with Charissa Ong Ty!

1. You told in the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival that you got your heart broken and that’s when you find the courage to start writing Midnight Monologues, on the process of writing the poems did you ever find yourself moving on little by little and how was it?

Yes, it’s actually my method of coping. You can observe it, by the way, I structure my poems in my book, from Lost (where I lost my love), Found (when I found a new love for myself and my current love) and Hope (when I realised that there’s more to life than just romantic love, so I focused on love for the people around me and my current goals and aspirations as a person – very much like finding oneself)

2. What was the hardest part in the process of making your poetry book?

It’s printing and distribution. No one in my direct circle of friends or family has much knowledge in this industry. So, my mother and I had to figure it out on our own by asking a lot of questions and learn through trial and error.

3. You mention in the previous event that you want to change your country for the better, where did you get that drive to change something for your people and for your country?

I’m an avid reader, and when I just started out with my book, I sought to advise from people who had published books before. I was told that majority of the Malaysians do not like reading and many do not see the importance of English in their lives. I read that an average Malaysian reads less than one book a year (I don’t know how true that is but I shall base it on my personal observation) and It’s quite disheartening. People from Instagram asked if I was an American or Singaporean because I had good English. They said that people from my country that are fluent in English are rare. I want to change that perception.

4. What do you think is the biggest challenge of Poetry Authors in the bookish community?

Finding your own distinctive style that differentiates yourself from another.

5. If you are going to date someone, fictional or not, dead or alive, who would it be? Why and what are you going on your date?

I’d just date my current boyfriend haha. Knowing someone new all over again takes a lot of time and energy.

6. Describe Midnight Monologues in ten words!

Concise heart-wrenching words that hold special meaning to different people.

7. Who are Charissa Ong Ty five years in the past?

I was in my 2nd-year degree in Interactive Media Design. I had goals that were small and achievable and didn’t dare to dream too big. I was just doing the best I could in what I knew then.

8. If you are going to give an advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?

“Start reading. I know you might hate reading now, but I promise you that you’ll love it. You don’t have to wait for Twilight to debut to give it a try. Come on.”

9. Given a chance to teach the world, what lesson would you want to impart to everyone?

The attitude of learning. Once they have that, they can teach themselves anything they’d like to learn.

10. What is your favorite quote in your poetry book and why is that your favorite line?


“Why do you believe in me?

“Cause it’s awesome. You should try it sometime.”

It’s at the back of my book cover. It’s my favorite because it’s beautiful to have someone have faith in the potential you can’t see in yourself.


15280447.jpgCharissa Ong published her first English Poetry and Short Stories book in 2016. #MidnightMonologues is the finalist for the International Book Awards 2017 for both Best Cover Design and Poetry categories. It has also been MPH’s Best Books of 2016 and remained in the Best Sellers list for a year.

It is now available in Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines.

She is now working on a second book, Daily Dialogues and is planning to publish it in 2018.

Book Review: Midnight Monologues by Charissa Ong Ty

Three type of pain was inflicted to my being while I was reading Midnight Monologues. Stinging Pain. Hanging Pain. Leaving Pain. Midnight Monologues is a good poetry book that could provide different kinds of voices per line in one poem. It will leave you wanting more even if you know, in the back of my mind, that algesia is the end result. I love the style that has been used in Midnight Monologues. It signifies the modern and evolving writing style of poems and the feelings are on point. It strummed the chords in my heart, while feeling broken, left out, in pain and most of all, desolate.

It was a stinging pain in the process of reading the book, the journey of repeating the unwanted feeling is all over the book. It displays too much emotion that I can’t contain enough. The words made me realize of loving people could destroy you and the questions you supposedly ask to them are the questions you should ask yourself. It was revealing and on point, it tackles self-love and moving on, it is trying to reach on our conscience that there’s more to the world than the love that lost and we could find it not to someone but within ourselves.

Another thing that I like about this book, aside from the wonderful cover art, is the inclusion of short stories in the end that can make the readers think the outcome and how every story ends with an impact that is related to reality. Midnight Monologues is not a simple composition of poetry, accumulated feelings, and honest emotions. It was also a collection of words that can change, phrases that can wake up a person, sentences that can help find the reader’s voice within and paragraphs that can touch someone’s life. It is a wonderful, lovely, and if I can say more, honest artwork done and contributed to the literature by Charissa Ong Ty.


Also, check my Event Recap #GoReadWrite2017 as Charissa Ong Ty was one of the panelists in Self-Publishing your book.


15280447.jpgCharissa Ong published her first English Poetry and Short Stories book in 2016. #MidnightMonologues is the finalist for the International Book Awards 2017 for both Best Cover Design and Poetry categories. It has also been MPH’s Best Books of 2016 and remained in the Best Sellers list for a year.

It is now available in Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines.

She is now working on a second book, Daily Dialogues and is planning to publish it in 2018.

Interview with Karen Kao!


A rape. A war. A society where women are bought and sold but no one can speak of shame. Shanghai 1937. The courtesan culture. Violence throbs at the heart of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

Song Anyi is on the road to Shanghai and freedom when she is raped and left for dead. The silence and shame that mark her courageous survival drive her to escalating self-harm and prostitution. From opium dens to high-class brothels, Anyi dances on the edge of destruction while China and Japan go to war. Hers is the voice of every woman who fights for independence against overwhelming odds.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is one of four interlocking novels set between 1929 and 1954, The Shanghai Quartet, which span a tumultuous time in Chinese history.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle (Shanghai Quartet 1) – Karen Kao

Published by Linen Press in paperback and ebook on 1 April 2017

  1. Hi, Ms. Karen, Rafael here from The Royal Polar Bear Reads and here’s my first question to you. As basic as it sounds, Who or What is your inspiration for your book The Dancing Girl and the Turtle?

Hello, Rafael! Thanks for having me on The Royal Polar Bear Reads. Believe it or not, my inspiration comes from boring family meals. Remember when you were a kid and forced to sit at the table while the adults talked about the old country? In my case, that was Shanghai in the 1930s and 40s, where my father grew up. The food we ate, the clothes my mother wore, even the music we heard: it all harked back to that earlier time.

  1. The setting of your book is in the past, what made you decide that you are going to write a historical fiction book and was it always the genre you wanted to write when you were planning to publish The Dancing Girl and the Turtle?

My worst subject in school was history. Dry, lots of names and dates when what interests me is how people actually lived and died. I like historical nonfiction like Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror or Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series that put you in that place and time.

I had to do quite a lot of research to re-create Shanghai in the 1930s, using all sorts of resources from academic research, eyewitness accounts, contemporary fiction to my own family’s archives. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to get it right. Especially since I’m using the geopolitical situation in China as a counterpoint to my narrative themes. For The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, the main historical markers are the First and Second Sino-Japanese Wars, opium and the Unequal Treaties as well as the coming of WWII.

  1. From the summary alone there are already sensitive themes and trigger warning. Self-harm, sexual violence, and death are mentioned. What are your opinions on this subjects and what do you think is the relevance or the impact of those subjects on your book?

My novel is about repression. That can be a state of denial imposed by outside forces, like a government or a culture. It can be an unspoken rule within a family. Or it can be induced by trauma as in the case of Anyi in The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. Some readers have already remarked that Anyi could be a metaphor for China during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War with the Rape of Nanking coming up only a few months after The Dancing Girl and the Turtle closes.

  1. If you are going to date someone, fictional or not, dead or alive, who would it be and what are you going to do on your date?

Happily married as I am, I should probably stick with a fictional date. I like old school detectives like Maigret or Morse or Vera Stanhope, men and women who see the very worst of human nature and yet get up every morning and try to do good.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book? Plotting the scenes? Acquiring the voice of the character? The writing style?

There are two kinds of writers out there: people who plot and people who write by the seat of their pants. I belong in the latter category. I don’t know any other way to write than to start and find out where I end up. Throw away and repeat.

  1. Was it your dream to become a writer or did the writer career choose you?

When I was still in college, my dream was to be a poet. My father thought this was a spectacularly bad idea. He talked me into going to law school instead. After practicing law for almost 30 years (and enjoying almost every bit of it), I needed a change although it took me a long time to admit that writing was what I longed to do.

  1. If you are going to give your 10-year-old self an advice, what would it be?

Save your manuscripts! You never know where a good idea might pop up. And anyway, they’re always good for a laugh.

  1. Describe your book, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, in few words!

Old Shanghai on the brink of war

  1. Your bio states that you are a lawyer and now you are a writer, was it difficult to change career paths or you are balancing both at the same time? If you are not a writer today nor a lawyer in the past, what career path you will be having now and why?

I’m a full-time writer now. That means working on my second novel Peace Court, set in Shanghai 1954, my blog at and reading reading reading. If I had the talent to do it, I’d be a professional chef.

  1. What was your favorite quote or scene in your book and why?

My favorite scene is the last one but I won’t quote it here since that would be a plot spoiler. There are of course lines that I love for the image they conjure up but I think I’m most proud of worming myself into the mind of my bad guy, Tanizaki, a Japanese spy. Here’s a scene on his birthday. To celebrate, Tanizaki allows his men to hold a wrestling match.

“Neither wrestler wore a shirt. Their chests were speckled by the shadow of the mulberry tree. Skin that had once been slick with chicken fat now bore a crust of salt and blood.

The taller one lunged. He missed and crashed into the wooden fence that did not even shudder, tall and stout as it was. It had been built to keep the Chinese out, allowing in only the coolies needed for the heavy labor.

The crowd jeered as the big man slumped to the ground, his legs spread wide. His smaller, more agile, opponent disappeared into the crowd only to return running at full speed. He leaped, twisting his body in the air so that both feet landed squarely on the chest of his foe. A loud crack was followed by a simple sigh from the now broken body of the fighter. The crowd cheered wildly while the coolies ran up to drag away the loser’s body.”


The Dancing Girl BT


Karen-20Karen Kao is the child of Chinese immigrants who settled in the US in the 1950s. Her debut novel has been praised by critics from London to Hong Kong for its accurate portrayal of the oppression experienced by women in 1930s Shanghai.


Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Goodreads | Instagram

Book Review: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

18966806Satisfied. So many heartaches. Undeniably one of the best ending of a trilogy. Morning Star didn’t just captivates my whole attention in the story at all but also how it was executed so well that I couldn’t think any plot holes in the trilogy. It was one of the best rides I’ve ever had in the book, as well as the most painful one among the three books. I’m in tears for so many times that I had this need to stop myself to read what will come next – I even retaliate, prevent to read the book most of the times since I couldn’t hold so many heartaches in one sitting.

Although it teaches a lot of values, acceptance, second chances – for a better generation; it still exudes so much manipulation. It was the best ally of Pierce Brown when he was writing the trilogy. He could manipulate and control his readers. Over their own emotion, on our feelings – I can, at least, say that it was good and worth it. What I didn’t see coming with this book is how the characters I’m attached to were saying farewell bits by bits and it’s making me so emotional that I had to curse at times.

It was a roller coaster reading this trilogy. Sympathy is displaying so much with Darrow as Sevro shows remorse and forgiveness. You can see Mustang being so protective and on alert. Characters in this book are real – they felt real as if they are people I’ve been with while on the journey of reading the novels. Sacrifice embodies the literature, blood covers the story and I don’t know how to describe the book without shedding tears.

Morning Star is a well-written book that I would love to applause Pierce Brown. He nailed it and it was one of those books that readers would hold dear. Courageous, being humane, and having a heart for the people are few things that Morning Star teaches me. It may be rude, violent and immoral but at the end, it will teach you life and how you should live by with your own decisions. I love how everything fits together and Brown never ceases to amaze me everytime I read his books. For you, I wish you grab this book and give it a chance. It is worth your money, time and attention. It gives us more than hope and life in return. And as you finish the series, you’ll have way more understanding where I was coming.


Quotable Quotes that I love in the series:

  • “You and I keep looking for light in the darkness, expecting it to appear. But it already has.” I touch his shoulder. “We’re it, boyo. Broken and cracked and stupid as we are, we’re the light, and we’re spreading.”
  • “justice isn’t about fixing the past, it’s about fixing the future. We’re not fighting for the dead. We’re fighting for the living. And for those who aren’t yet born.”
  • “This is always how the story would end,” he says to me. “Not with your screams. Not with your rage. But with your silence.”
  • “In his eyes I glimpse the loneliness, the longing for a life that should have been, and the glimmer of the man he wants to be underneath the man he thinks he has to be.”
  • “Life’s not just a matter of breathing, it’s a matter of being.”

Please do check out my book review of

Red Rising and Golden Son.

Also, don’t forget my INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY on Twitter!


LRM_EXPORT_20170828_151357Pierce Brown’s first novel, RED RISING (Del Rey Books), debuts January 28, 2014. It is the first installment in The Red Rising Trilogy.

Pierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for his cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in his body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign.

Now he lives in Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things old or bizarre.

Note to the reader: Always feel free to contact him via his website, twitter, or facebook. He likes people. Except if you’re a trollish person. Then he merely puts up with you for the sake of manners and propriety.

IG @piercebrownofficial

Cover Reveal: The Rebels of Gold by Elise Kova!

The final book of The Loom Saga is on our way and I don’t know what to feel yet as I see the cover of the final book. It is so beautiful!

Without further ado…


A new rebellion rises from the still-smoldering remnants of the five guilds of Loom to stand against Dragon tyranny. Meanwhile, on Nova, those same Dragons fight amongst themselves, as age-old power struggles shift the political landscape in fateful and unexpected ways. Unlikely leaders vie for the opportunity to shape a new world order from the perfect clockwork designs of one temperamental engineer.

This is the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Elise Kova’s Loom Saga, THE REBELS OF GOLD will reveal the fate of Loom’s brilliantly contrasting world and its beloved inhabitants.


For those who preorder THE REBELS OF GOLD, they can get exclusive swag for submitting their preorder. More info here:

Pre-order THE REBELS OF GOLD from:


(more pre-order locations to come)