Friday, February 5, 2010

Blogger Spotlight! Gal Novelty

This week I'm spotlighting Gal Novelty which was started by the awesome Ah Yuan. I love her blog so much. Her reviews are so well-written and through and she really goes all out. i would not want her to review a book of mine and not like it, lol. But if I wrote a book and she liked it, then you would definitely want her to review it! She's funny, sincere and helpful.

1 ) Explain about your blog. (i.e. what makes it special, why did you start it, where does the name come from, etc.)

I mostly started a blog on blogger because I have a deep fondness for novels, (YA and/or fantasy in particular) and I wanted to make an attempt to connect with the book blogsphere so I can share this interest with people. As for my blog name 'GAL Novelty', the 'gal' is in all caps because I am a female and proud. It's gal because while I don't quite feel mature enough to be called a woman, being called a girl feels like I'm being talked down to, and anyhow, there's just something short and sweet about the word 'gal' that I like (Er, I'd think of a Cool Acronym for it, but I lack in imagination and therefore suck). As for 'Novelty', the thing I really like about the word 'novel' is that it can both mean the long fictive prose noun OR if we make it into an adjective, 'novel' becomes a word used to describe something new and unexpected, fresh and different.The best kind of novels, imho, are the ones that let you see something fresh and different every time you do a reread, books that make you want to read over and over - Hence, the name 'Novelty'.

2) What 2010 debut book are you most looking forward to? And non-debut?

I can only talk about one each? T_T You're so cruel, Ari.
Okay, a 2010 debut I'm really really looking forward to is a YA title I just discovered yesterday called Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda. Mystery! POC protagonist! LGBT content! What's there not to love? Also, as it happens to be the only Asian lead YA debut novel of 2010 being published this year I plan on dishing out money for the first edition available. Gotta support. =D

As for non-debut, many many titles but I'm really looking forward to Loups-Garous by Natsuhiko Kyogoku. Kyogoku writes the craziest batshit stories evar, and I love it. =D

3) What are your top five favorite books?

1) Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge - It's FRANCES HARDINGE. Aka the best MG novelist evar (tied with Cynthia Kadohata) Also Gullstruck Island is basically my favourite multicultural post-colonial fantasy in the entire world.

2) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa - Because this is basically the craziest, funniest SF evar with the most outrageous cast I've ever seen. Espers! Time Travellers! Aliens! Oh my.

3) Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata - There's no POC protagonist, persay, but it is written by a Japanese-American, and I love it. I never ever like animal stories but if anyone can make me like one, it'd be Kadohata. This woman just really gets dogs. =D

4) Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai - I loooooove the surreal quality of this pseudo-SF, and the incorporation of Chinese mythology. Also! Lesbian romance in a SF novel! Very awesome.

5) Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep - My childhood book of love. Casey Young is the coolest, no-nonsense and most awesomely smart-alecky preteen ever. And I love the story-within-a-story aspect of this novel.

4) Talk about yourself =)

Okay, lemme see. I'm a relatively new undergrad gal running around a liberal arts college. To avoid being stressed out on school I like to dive head on into stories, be they in written forms like short stories or novels, sequential art like manga, or my precious, precious tv shows and movies. And I am a jumble of hypenates: a Malaysian-Chinese Canadian. (booyah, the diaspora is in my blood) I can't deny that my being a Malaysian-Chinese Canadian female affects my reading choices, and by proxy affects the kinds of books I'll blog about. I like looking for stories about women with agency in their storyline, and I like looking for stories that feature a multicultural cast. Little things about being Canadian affect how I blog, like how I will always spell words like neighbour and colour with the 'u' (It's just so weird to me without it) and when I refer to the prices of the books I buy I always use CND dollars. =P I'm also particularly sensitive when it comes to yet another Canadian story about a whitewashed narrative, because it's a narrative that's been handed out to me all my life that I'm tired of just accepting. Oh Canada, the Great Forever White North of Fail, why?

Hmm, little known fact: I can speak/read/write French. Not enough that I would say I'm completely fluent, but I can definitely hold my own in a conversation and can read French works with minimal use of the dictionary. In fact, I am wayyyyyy better at French than I've ever been in Chinese, be it in either Mandarin or Cantonese. (I've been told this makes me weird, but w/e) So if you wish to comment to me in French, I'm totally cool with that. (I hope you won't be expecting everything to be ~*grammatically*~ correct though. *is terribly lazy about grammar*)

I also have a bit of a melodramatic streak in me, and I believe some of it shows in my blogging. I'm always reacting to something and usually have something to say about everything down to the most mundane things. I either love or hate something, a middle indifferent ground is a concept rather foreign to me. Personally, I think life's more fun if you're interacting and reacting to it. =D

5) If you could have dinner with two characters from any book who would it be and why?

First up I'd loooove to have Jacob from North of Beautiful as a dinner date. He's sweet and cute and thoughtful and won't laugh at me as I make a fool out of myself trying to eat and not oogle at the same time. And it'd be epic for Haruhi from The Suzumiya Haruhi series to be there as well, because she's so crazy and will probably make a big unforgettable adventure out of a trip to the restaurant. (We'll need a translator between us, but I think the epic adventure will cross over the language barrier. =D) Also I'm amused by the idea of how Jacob would react to someone like Haruhi.

Finally any advice to those who want to read POC? And to those who are just starting to blog?

If you choose to read POC, there are excellent blog resources dedicated to blogging POC books out there, such as Ari's blog right here, for instance. =D My personal favourite resource is the Writers of Color 50 books because there's an endless list of reviews and there are genre tags so if you're partial to a certain genre, like YA, you can click the YA tag and, lo behold, a million YA book reviews, just for you! Also, there'd be multiple reviews for the same novel so you can get different viewpoints and opinions on one novel in one place and can have a better judgement on seeing whether or not that particular book is for you.

And to those who are just starting to blog, what helped me a lot was by blogging side by side with a friend. I would have never gotten this far without ninefly prodding and encouragement. We went book shopping together, prod each other to work on reviews and be ~*productive*~, and text/call each other about their content. Blogging with ninefly got me rolling in the whole book blogging world and I appreciate it and am so proud to be her friend. Also, I would recommend commenting on other people's blogs. Most of the fun in blogging in general is with the interactivity, and that's how you'll make friends and acquaintances in the book blogsphere. I hope this advice will be helpful to you and good luck with your respective blogs!

I've added Crossing to my 2010 YA/MG Debut Author challenge list! I'll have to check out the books she lists especially Cracker. I've only read one other book by Cynthia Kadohata, but I really liked it (Kira Kira). I would love to have dinner with Jacob! I don't know Haruhi, but I'll check out the series. Thanks for the interview Ah Yuan, it's been fun! Everyone needs to go check out Gal Novelty, right now.

To be featured in the Blogger Spotlight, email me.


  1. So glad you found the *other* totally cool, smart, and sassy Canadian gal online! (wink) Ah Yuan has a wicked sense of humor AND fierce analytical skills, so the Great White North better WATCH OUT!

  2. Great interview, Ari. I've always wondered who Ah Yuan is, because I've read her comments on a lot of the blogs I visit and have always been impressed by them. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, but she makes the books so inviting that I've started reading in that area. In fact, I just featured Ash as my pick for a local radio show that features an annual roundup of LGBTQ YA titles.

    And great advice for how to start a YA book blog. I've been thinking of starting one one of my own if I go back to school for my MFA. (Now I just guest review for others.)

  3. so nice to get to know ah yuan a bit better! thanks to you both.

  4. to Ah Yuan:
    aww, I'm glad we're helping each other with ~*productivity*~
    you know I'd never have even started my book blog if you hadn't dragged me along with you on your (frequent) book-shopping sprees <3
    melodramatic? you? REALLY I NEVER KNEW. =P
    already know all of those books you mentioned above (since you've literally shoved them in my face at one point or another lol), but I'm checking out the Writers of Colour challenge
    (and yay Canadian spelling! 8D)

    to MissAttitude:
    thanks for hosting these spotlights! don't even know why it took so long for me to follow your blog, but I'm definitely looking forward to more PoC recommendations

  5. Another great spotlight, Ari. And Ah Yuan - thanks for the heads up about Crossing! I hadn't heard about that one yet, and I'm always looking for more LGBT lit (especially when the story is about more than coming out).

  6. I found Ah Yuan's blog via the Magic Under Glass whitewashing debacle. She's got some fab taste!

    Excellent spotlight, I'm so jealous that she can speak fluent French, (you can test out of college language requirements!) and oh yay I have one of her favorite books on my owned-TBR, the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya!

  7. Hi Ah Yuan, we should speak French some time! :D It's great to get to know you better through this interview, and thank you for the book recommendations. :)

    Ari, wonderful wonderful, thank you! I didn't know about Writers of Color 50 Books. I'm glad Ah Yuan brought it up during the interview!

  8. @Zetta

    *high fives the other wicked awesome Canadian gal*

    @Lyn Miller-Lachmann

    =O Impressed by my comments? lawl nicest compliment evar. Thanks! =D
    And aw, it's too bad re:fantasy. That's my genre of love, though you know, sometimes I don't think it likes me back quite as much. And yay at Ash shoutout!


    Glad you liked the interview! I'm looking forward to reading your book this year, lol. =D


    My book shopping sprees are the best times evar, and you know it. (And thank you for putting up with all my book blabbing during every trip!)
    But you still have to READ ALL THE BOOKS I MENTIONED. *ignores all your protests on your large TBR pile of books* READ MINE MINE MINE. *is bricked*
    Canadian spelling rocks. <3

    @Angela Craft,

    Oh yes, one of the big draws for me for that book is the more than coming out aspect of that novel. I'm super curious about the mystery aspect.


    re:fab taste *blushes* THANKS! =D

    lawl, because I'm crazy, I still go about taking French courses. I'm actually hoping to being total fluent in french and pass that language test to get the bilingual cert. *crosses fingers*
    =O Have you read Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya yet?! So awesome. I love the humour. The translation is a bit meh but that all fell away next to the awesome story and humourous tone.


    Yes, I'm totally down with speaking French. Je peux toujour utiliser l'occasion d'y pratiquer. ;D

  9. Ari,
    Nice interview! I enjoy getting insights into the person behind the blog and in this case, finding out about a new and interesting blog!
    merci beaucoup!

  10. Thanks for this, a great feature of your blog, and always leads me to more great stuff! I'll be on the lookout for Crossing, and I've put in an interlibrary loan request for Salt Fish Girl.

  11. Great interview and answers! Jacob sounds adorable, and basically means I need to read North of Beautiful SOON. As for French>Chinese, shame-shame. Though Chinese is insanely and irrationally difficult. *sigh* And, lol, I would hate to have a book reviewed negatively by Ah Yuan too! (The Summoning? ouch.)

  12. I just found your site through The Rejectionist. Great blog!

  13. Okay, I'm late. Came by read and linked on our FB pages.

    Love what you do, Ari and Ah Yuan, so glad you came into my world. You rock!

  14. AH YUAN!

    I love you, just thought you should know that.

    And *dies* I LOVE FRANCES HARDINGE, woot for amazing writing.

    And that's so cool you can semi-speak French. I'm terrible at languages, I can barely say anything in Mandarin. *sigh*

    And wow, how can Crossing be the ONLY book in 2010 with an Asian lead? *fumes* And thanks for the link. I really need to start reading more muliticultural books.

    Awesome interview, both of you :D


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