This is the official blog of Winna Efendi, author of several bestselling Indonesian novels.

Senin, 31 Desember 2012

2012 Reading Journey

My reading journey in 2012 consisted mostly of comic books, but I did find a few gems along the way. I expanded my choice of genres, which I'm proud of, and I found myself enjoying them more than I thought I would. I participated in two (or was it three?) 24 hours BookDepo deals and got myself so many early Christmas presents at a fantastic price.

Without further ado, here's my own little book awards for 2012:

Best Indonesian fiction: Memori by Windry Ramadhina. Everything about the book is perfect.

Best English fiction: In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, and Rutha Sepetys' Between Shades of Grey. They're both about genocides in two different countries, both very tragic yet so touching. Books about humanity are often the best.

Best manga/comic book: Sepeda Merah by Kim Dong Hwa and Love Me Blue by Fujiwara Yoshiko. I like the illustrations, but the story is heartwarming as well :) oooh, and I love Runway Sweetheart!

Most beautiful book: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick and All About Me: Father Christmas. Beautiful colorful illustrations. Wonderful story.

Most melancholic book: it's a tie between Maggie O'Farrel's After You'd Gone and Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara. Both manage to capture the feeling of loss, fear, and letting go beautifully.

Creepiest book: the Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. Read it and you'll know why.

Best non-fiction: Saga no Gabai Bachan by Yoshichi Shimada. A family story about morality, life values, and poverty. It makes us reevaluate our priorities and remind us to be more thankful for little things in life.

Most disappointing read: Without Tess by Marcella Pixley. I was expecting to be blown away by the sadness, the inability to let go, the raw emotions of Lizzie. Instead I got poems about selzkies and magic, and a lot of counseling that talks about magic but less of those feelings. I was also disappointed with The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. The main character is not lovable that it ruins the beauty of the story for me. And I don't even want to mention the Incorrigible Childern series.

Most memorable: the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and the Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The story just flows beautifully in every page.

New genre: The Dead Room by Chris Mooney. I love crime mystery and finally start reading them. I'm not blown away, but it does make one compelling read. I've also been reading, collecting, and falling in love with all Kanon Iguchi's and Chie Watari's mystery manga.

Here's to a colorful 2013 reading experience!

2013 Book Wishlist

Now that it is the last day of 2012, I'm looking back at the books I've read and the ones I would like to read in the following year. There are so many new books to be published, and there are so many sequels I'm looking forward to, here's a few of them:

  • Requiem, the sequel to Pandemonium, the third book in Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver
What will happen to Alex and Lena? Who will she choose, Julian or Alex? Nail biting, fast paced story with a romance to root for. I always pre order her books as soon as the news is out.

  • The Retribution of Mara Dyer, third and final book in the Mara Dyer trilogy
Now this is another brilliant book with smooth pace, a lovable heroine, and a strong male character. Their romance is so thrilling but it still allows room for mysteries and 'the big picture'. Simply cannot wait. Plus, what gorgeous cover the designer will spring on us next?

  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
I've waited nearly two years for her next book. I never miss a book by Dessen, enough said.

  • Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: have heard so many good reviews about this one!

  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. OK, I'm not that interested in five different members of a band and one deaf manager, but the premise is intriguing and for some reasons I can't make myself remove this book from my wishlist.

  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green: the premise reminds me of Enzo in Art of Racing in the Rain, and I have a feeling I'm going to love it as much as I loved Enzo.

  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith: what a cute story it must be! I love the movie Serendipity, so I'm guessing this one is a lot like that one, at least the fate thing.
  • The Edge of Never by JA Redmerski: I read a few pages from Amazon, and my hunch says it's going to be a wonderful, surprising read. I wasn't interested when I read the synopsis, but almost every review mentions how lovely it is.
  • The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban: this one's on BookDepository's 2012 list, and I'm hooked as soon as I saw the cover plus synopsis.
The Tragedy Paper

Selasa, 18 Desember 2012

(book) Without Tess by Marcella Pixley


Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can't live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess's battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.


Without Tess caught my attention when I found it on the back shelf of Kinokuniya PS's YA section. The synopsis is interesting enough, but at that time the lack of a paperback version stopped me from buying it immediately. The glowing reviews made me think twice and finally grabbed the hardcover during my next visit.

I'm a sucker for lovely mellow books. One such example is Lovely, Dark and Deep. This one's mellow enough but I can't get through the head of the character. I personally feel that the story should be longer instead of shorter. I do not get Tess's poems, I do not understand Lizzie and am acutely aware that the reader (as in me) is not constantly present in her journey of getting over the past. This reminds me a lot of 13 Reasons Why, because the character Hannah and Clay are hard to grasp, as are Tess, Lizzie and even Isabella. There's so much distance between the characters and the readers and I find myself not understanding enough of them. Lizzie's ending journey makes me a little surprised because it's so abrupt and there's hardly any development during her sessions with Kaplan, her school therapist. There's too much flashbacks, although necessary, I feel a flashback and a present situation should co-exist in every chapter instead of only inserted here and there.

The insanity of Tess is beautifully blurred - no black and white here, we want to believe she's magic, want to help her understand she's not, all at the same time.

Without Tess is a beautiful book, but could be better if only it can get the readers to emote more because it's heartbreaking and sad. If only. Only the last few pages get me teary eyed, and glad that they finally get to let go.

Kamis, 13 Desember 2012

After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell


Alice Raikes takes a train from London to Scotland to visit her family, but when she gets there she witnesses something so shocking that she insists on returning to London immediately. A few hours later, Alice is lying in a coma after an accident that may or may not have been a suicide attempt. Alice's family gathers at her bedside and as they wait, argue, and remember, long-buried tensions emerge. The more they talk, the more they seem to conceal. Alice, meanwhile, slides between varying levels of consciousness, recalling her past and a love affair that recently ended. A riveting story that skips through time and interweaves multiple points of view, After You'd Gone is a novel of stunning psychological depth and marks the debut of a major literary talent.


After You'd Gone has been on my shelf for quite sometime, but I haven't really made time to read it until 3 days ago. The synopsis attracted me, and I got this from Bookmooch years ago.

It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. It's definitely unconventional, the story going back and forth in time, with no permanent narrators. The point of view switches from first and third person, and oddly I find that refreshing because that's also how I once wrote my novel drafts. It sometimes validates my opinion that such an unconventional way of writing is acceptable.

The story is strong, although sometimes predictable. I love that all characters are fully fleshed out, and that we get different perspectives all the time. It is moving, often heartbreaking and it has this raw quality that makes me flip page after page just to find out what happens next.

A truly wonderful masterpiece, and it's worth mentioning that this is a debut novel. I love debut novels for some reasons - that they always showcase the author's deepest feelings and emotions, and their freshest idea, along with the drive of being a new author that compels them to do their best and not just to repeat success or create the next book that might stand like a replica against the first.

I love it. 4.5 stars out of 5.

P.S. Love the cover, though mine's a different one with blue background.

Senin, 10 Desember 2012

New Year's Resolutions

this cute cartoon is taken from anansisweb.wordpress.com

Every year I make my own New Year's Resolutions, except for last year when I went que sera sera. I think this year I'll do the same, but I will also reflect on 2012 and its impact in my life.

2012 is a year of failures, disappointments, and success for me. I mean it quite literally - I've been through so much these years I feel like this is the year of sinking and bouncing back, both in the same year. The beginning of 2012 was particularly tough, and I remember working really hard during the first and second semesters of the year until I could hardly feel my sleep anymore.

Writing-wise, I did finish 1 novel draft for 2013 publication. I usually targeted myself to write two, but this year, with my schedule and a longer than intended break, it just wasn't possible. I'm really proud of my latest project, because it really took a long time to finish, and it was similar to Unforgettable, a project I considered my personal breakthrough. It took almost as long for it to brew and finally get written, just as its predecessor. We haven't had a title yet, but so far I'm calling it Rewind.

On the social front, we had a middle school reunion that reminded me how much we all have changed. Someone who used to be my best friend was suddenly sprouting alien sentences, and the person who used to call me names now has more in common with me than the rest. My friends are getting married, being pregnant, having babies and building their little families. On the other hand, I keep writing, working, living in my own world. Some good friends I stopped seeing, losing more friendships than I've had in years, we go our separate ways. Some good friends I met again, finding that I miss them more than I thought I would.

Life goes on. So my resolutions for 2013 are simple. I wish to keep writing good things, and to be able to listen to my heart, to be able to live life courageously, to be able to barrel through hardships and not sweat the small stuffs so much. And I want to be content being me, because frankly I can't live this life twice.

And that is one hell of a resolution for me. Amen to that.

Selasa, 04 Desember 2012

December Events

December is here! Berikut daftar acara yang akan kuhadiri di bulan Desember :)

6 December 2012
Cihampelas Walk - area Union Square, jam 16.00-17.00
Outdoor talkshow with Radio MGT Bandung 101.1FM: live streaming here http://www.mgtradio.com/
Interaktif lho :)

9 December 2012
Plaza Festival Kuningan GOR Soemantri: Indonesian Readers Festival, jam 12.30-13.30
Writing talkshow dengan Widyawati Oktavia (editor Bukune)

14 December 2012
A special something planned out :) surprise akan diumumkan 3 hari sebelumnya.

See you during the events!

-Winna Efendi-

Minggu, 02 Desember 2012

(book) the Selection by Keira Cass


For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.


OK, I've been warned. I read all the one-starred reviews first, and for a while they stopped me from getting the book. But look at that cover! Look at the synopsis! The premise!

For such a fan of girls vs girls America's Next Top Model meets The Hunger Games (that's an apt description for this book, minus the actual gory fighting), I simply wanted to read this book.

What I didn't know:

- there is a sequel, a trilogy maybe? or perhaps a saga for this book. I think one book will suffice, actually, unless the author has prepared something about the rebellion and prepare a special surprise regarding the Selection.

- there will be a Twilight kind of love triangle: I love him, but I like the other guy too. I don't know which one to choose, till the end of the book.

And yes, the book is juvenile. The banter is sometimes fun, sometimes not. But it is fun. The whole book is fun. The concept of 35 girls fighting for the crown or the prince (either one is the motivation, but the winner will get both) is fun.

What I like: the character is strong. The side characters are alright.

What I don't like: the names. America Singer? I keep thinking her name is Meredith when Aspen calls her Mer. Maxon? I'm sorry but it doesn't sound very gentlemanly to me. The semi-dystopian setting is unclear. The castes, the rules, they're explained in semi details and we don't get a proper background when it could've been one of the strongest assets of this book, and it can also provide a strong foundation if the rebellion is going to be one of the main topics of the second book. And then the love triangle. For such a strong willed character, she sure does not know who to pick and what to do. I'm betting that she'll end up with Maxon.

Overall, such a fun read in one sitting. If only, if only. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sabtu, 01 Desember 2012

(book) Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara


A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somehwere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.


Oh, what a precious book.

With a beautiful cover and a lovely title like that, I definitely couldn't resist bringing it to the cashier right away. Lovely, Dark and Deep does not have any synopsis on the back cover except for some blurbs, but from reviews, this book seems to be about lost and grief, right up my alley. The writer also has a degree in poetry, and I expect beautiful prose and a lot of heartaches in this book.

I'm right :) the book focuses on Wren, a girl who lost her ex-boyfriend in an accident, and she was there in the car with him, but only she survived. She left town and went to live with her estranged artist father, tried to pick up the broken pieces of who she was and discover who she is now. She also meets Cal, a boy with MS, someone who understands how she feels because possibly he's been through a lot of grief too.

What a beautiful book! I'm sucked in immediately and can feel every heartbreak in every page. Wren is a lot like me in some ways - we both wish the world can turn mute sometimes, and when it doesn't, we do. Wren is a misantrophe and socially challenged, she says all the wrong things and doesn't know how to talk to people. I understand why she needs time to figure out some things for herself, and feels hurt when the people around her are trying to get her to change, see a shrink, get a job, not mope around, and just DO something.

After reading more than half of the book, I also get to see why people need her to change. She's too absorbed in her own guilt and anger and sadness that she does not move on with her life. She's often self destructing and lets things be the way they are for too long.

I love all the characters - they are wonderfully built, with the perfect balance to fill the gaps, to both support and push Wren. I love Cal the most, his easy calm, the way he understands her. Everyone has an arc to carry the story forward, and I love that.

Suffice to say, will look out for the next McNamara book! This is a superb debut. 4 out of 5 stars.