Fave Author : Kristen Ashley & Ika Natassa

So it’s been a while since I update anything on this blog. I was pretty much distracted by other events in my life and before I know it, it has been over three years since my last blog post. I honestly thought that this blog has expired or something, so I started to google’d my own blog (how embarrassing is that?) Luckily, one of the first things I set up in my phone is the blog itself and a WordPress app. So finally, after a password reset (I used to choose unique password just according to my whim, and later always have to reset the password after a while) I managed to open my blog! (Cue : shout ‘congratulations!’). And without further ado, the words I want to share just started flowing endlessly and then it turn out I have posted another blog post. And as I read past blog post of mine, I started to realize one of the underlying reasons why I create this blog itself. Because writing has become some sort of therapy for me. To be able to whip out a post or two and letting the words come by, totally without interruption and just letting it go (Let It Go-Ost Frozen BGM cue?) is truly satisfying and exhilarating for me.

It’s like sharing with everyone my deepest thoughts, a piece of me for others to read. I always have a deep relationship with stories. It felt like they just called out to me. Every time I read a story, I feel like I have been transported into another world, I feel like I can interact with the characters inside the book. I could feel their feeling, their sadness, their happiness, their fear, their anger, even when they’re being pitiful I could do nothing but cry alongside them. Every story called out to me, it has always felt like they’re calling me to read them, to experience their stories, to be a part of them. This is why I always love reading from early age to this day forward. Give me a book and I’ll be content and happy, give me a great book and I might love you. That’s how much I love reading, and I guess it’s a given that because I love reading, I have also become fond of writing, especially weaving stories inside my head every now and then. Although, being myself, I often got discouraged from actually writing up those ideas swirling inside my head. That’s why I have started this blog, to encourage me to write more, to be confident, after all how can I become a writer if I couldn’t even think about letting others reading my writing?

In the past, I have always wrote stories with excessive and extravagant background with dramatic stories, but as I grow older I become so embarrassed of those stories, so embarrassed that I couldn’t even read those stories I wrote in Junior High. Even the thought of picking the books up and reading it give me the shivers, that’s how much I am embarrassed by my past writing. As I grow older and matured, I realize I haven’t really written another story for the last decade or so. I’ve always been discouraged by my own self, thinking that I lack the imagination, lack the skill of writing, lack experience to give the story some depth, and also lack the confidence to do so. For the past decade, I probably tried to write a story and couldn’t even fill a page to satisfy myself and in the end ended up discarding those stories.

I’ve become an even more avid reader meanwhile, gaining satisfaction from reading a lot of stories and also finding one or two new author that’s good enough to satisfy my craving of more reading material.

Shout out to two particular authors that has become a very substantial role model and favorite of mine in the recent years. One is an American author and the other is an Indonesian author. I would like to introduce and share my thoughts on these two particular authors.

First is an American author, whose stories always give me the satisfaction to read, and whenever she launched a new book, I will wait up with giddiness. She starts up as a self-published author, an author who published her own books and managed to reach stardom in romance novels’ word. Her name is “Kristen Ashley” or she has sometimes refers herself as KA (her initial). KA has been giving me an example that simplicity could also become good stories. I was raised up reading Harlequin and Mills and Boon, where it’s almost always one or another version of Cinderella stories with drop dead gorgeous, tall dark and handsome guy, with alarming balance in their bank account (I mean tycoon) with the stereotype origins (Greek, Italy, Spanish, etc). Reading KA stories has been a refreshing journey, she brought out characters that seems like they will actually exist in this world, of course the guy has always been drop dead gorgeous, tall dark and handsome too, but KA has reached into the reality by bringing up characters such as bikers, gangster, mafia, lawman, bounty hunters and created them to become much more interesting in others’ eyes. She even introduced these seemingly ‘unsavory’ character as someone that’s not as bad as their current employment. She even created a character as a drug runner who enter the crime world because he has no choice and no other option to feed his family, and I just can’t help but to sympathize with this character. In “Lady Luck” she created a dark-skinned man (Half African American) who just got released from the prison as the main character of the story, with another girl with her own painful past to match. In “The Will” she also create a story about a forty something year old woman as the main character and paired her with a widower with some kids, who was a professional boxer, manages a bar and also a strip club (Yes, a Strip Club! Can you believe it?) In another book, she paired a man who has decided to be single for the rest of his life cause his first wife gotten deep into drug and alcohol and killed his child, but he just couldn’t get over with the attraction he felt towards his next door neighbor whose a widow and has two beautiful teenage daughters, with sunny disposition that hide her own sad past (dead husband and a stalker mob boss who actually ordered the hit to her own husband nonetheless). KA’s character not always been well off, sometimes she portray a couple whose not hurting for money but not exactly having lots of it and actually both work, sometimes she create a couple with a rich woman with a well off man, sometimes she creates a couple who was separated in the past by painful circumstances and later reunited and trying to overcome the bitter past. Always she manages to weave stories and let one stories interceded with each other. One of the pleasures I got from reading her books has always been those small but totally unexpected references or mentions of her past characters here and there. But for me, she didn’t only nailed it in contemporary  romance, but she has proven herself as an accomplished and talented author by not only writing stories about her Rock Chicks’ and their significant others, the hot bikers and their babes, the lawman, the private investigators, but she also manages to captivate me with her paranormal and fantasy genre stories. If you didn’t realize why that was such a feat, let me tell you a little secret, well it’s not exactly a secret, but I am a coward, big time! I didn’t even read horror stories, and whenever my friends asked me to watch a movie and it turn out to be a horror movie, I will most definitely refuse! So, for me to actually  read not only one but all of her ghost stories, that was such a feat. She manages to deliver well written stories in her fantasy series as well. She even creates a language for the other world / fantasy story (She consulted and helped by a linguist), that’s just show how much dedication she have for her work, and how much thought she poured out towards her stories. Every time she announces a new book launching date, I always wait with such excitement, and every time, she always deliver! I always got satisfaction from reading her stories, to the point of reading it over and over again, without getting bored at all, even though I already know the plot and stories. It’s hard to say which of her books I love the most, cause I most likely couldn’t event narrow down  the list into just three books, I love all of her books, and my favorite has always changes from one title to another. For example, she has created a series called “Rock Chick” series with total 8 books altogether, and I have to say, I love them all!!! Also the “Unfinished Heroes”, “Colorado Mountain”, “The Burg”, “Magdalene”, “Chaos MC”, “Dream Man”, “Heaven and Hell”, Fantasy Land”, and “Ghost and Reincarnation”. Depending on my current mood and current book on my re-read list, my favorite can changes rapidly and quickly. But, one thing for sure, it always revolves around her books. What I love about her is that she always created a spunky heroine to match the bad-ass alpha male hero of the book. The females are always headstrong, have a strong will, willy, resourceful and stubborn, to the point of becoming the source of headache to the hero. There will be no wilting daisies type character for the heroine, even the seemingly minor characters always have depth hidden in their own stories. I love how she developed the characters so much so that in the next book, we’ll get the chance to see a glimpse of the previous characters in their own version of happily ever after ending. It’s like getting a rare treat from a relative, it’s like when you’re playing a game and you got rare or legendary items. At those times, I will be like pumping my fist out of excitement and become super super happy that if I was in the vicinity of others at the time, they will most definitely think I’ve lost my mind. Well, I could really just rambling around and on and on and on talking about KA here, but really, if you haven’t read her books, you wouldn’t be able to understand what I’m talking about here and you will most likely think that I have lost my mind. But, I assure you, I am not crazy. Read her stories first and I believe that if you love reading, you will love reading her books and most definitely will get hooked on her. I felt like now I’m addicted to her and can’t function without even re-reading one of her books for more than a week. At least, that’s what I have resolved to do, until she launched another book. My personal reference will be reading her “Rock Chick” series first, get ready to be introduced to the world of bad-ass guys and the way KA weave one story after another with teeny tiny links that combine them all together. Seriously, I was obsessed with KA after only reading one book, I repeat again, ONE BOOK! How crazy is that? And before I knew it, I have read all of her books and crying endlessly after I finished all my stash of KA’s books. So far, I have recommended KA to several of my friends and none of them, NONE  said they didn’t got hooked by KA afterwards. Her books are the perfect balance of romance, action, tension (sexual tension and other wise) and hilarity. In the “Rock Chick” series, I couldn’t stop laughing when KA write about the hilarity of the character, but in another book, she delivered an emotional and full of pain story, so much so that I ended up crying because the description was so blunt, as if you could feel the pain the character feel with each and every word. Maybe I am just being overly sensitive, but I do believe that a good author should be able to do those things, to deliver the story so much so to the point that people can also feel the emotions despite the story being a fiction. So for all of you who hasn’t read her books yet, you’re missing out on one very talented and great author, Kristen Ashley is and will always be my favorite author. If it was up to me, I hope that she could release a new book every three months, not every month because I will most likely go broke from trying to buy each and every one of her books.

Now, that’s enough about KA, let’s talk about another favorite author of mine, another talented author who just happened to be an Indonesian author, and it’s such a proud thing for me to say that Indonesia, my country does have talented writer whose work is such a pleasure to read. What really make me notice this particular author is that she created a perfect platform through social media to publicize and promote her works through her own social media. Her name is “Ika Natassa” and for practicality sake, let’s refer her as Ika from now on. What’s totally unique about Ika is that she created such a stir and made her books and the character seem very alive. For instance, one of her most famous couple character “Alexandra Rhea Wicaksono” & “dr Beno Wicaksono” who’s totally adorable and what’s more is that Ika also created a twitter account and actively tweeted as Alex, about her supposed daily life and interaction with the adorable “Oom Bulu” aka the surgeon aka the hubby and his antics. She created the mystery of Alex and Beno and keep the characters story alive and even created such a stir that her fans has started thinking and believing that the story of Alex and Beno is in fact based on real life couple and that Alex and Beno are in fact alive and well and living their life as actual person. The hype about it was so huge that a lot of people started to follow Alex’s twitter account. It’s really interesting and exciting to see a glimpse of the fictional characters daily life through the twitter account. Ika and twitter always have a connection, because not only she has created twitter account for one of her account,  but so far during my search throughout twitter, I have found that Ika created more than one twitter account, and the other twitter account although I’m not sure that it was actually Ika who created it, but I would like to think that it is indeed Ika herself who created them, and it’s so fun to tweet-walking (instead of blog-walking) and found those account. The first book of Ika that I read was “Divortiare” the story of divorced couple of Alex and Beno who despite being divorced still keep in contact with each other, especially Alex who still reach out to Beno whenever she fall sick and Beno despite his prickly behavior always seem to worry and care about Alex and treated her, despite him being a surgeon instead of GP (common doctor than you see when you’re sick) Beno will always responds to the call and come and treat Alex while nagging and grumbling. The journey of Alex and Beno who trying to find each other again, because despite the bitter divorce, they still unconsciously look out for each other and have feeling for each other. It was so fun and cute to see how Beno got really jealous when Alex got a new boyfriend and look like she’ll be starting anew again while Beno still can’t forget Alex. And also when Alex’s mother got a heart attack, it was Beno who become Alex’s knight in shining armor and save Alex’s mother. And that was the turning point of their life, where they start to become civil with each other again, and finally start going out again as “friends” but later this actually develop their feeling again and remember how they still love each other. Although in the end of “Divortiare” Ika didn’t exactly wrote that Alex and Beno got married again, but in my active mind, they surely did. However, Alex and Beno story continues on for another two more books, called “Twivortiare” and “Twivortiare 2”. Both sequel books took on different format, as the two were compiled from Alex’s tweet for more or less two years after the launching of “Divortiare”. Where Ika actively tweeted as Alex so much so that her fans starting to believe that Alex and Beno are indeed real life couple. As I was introduced to Ika rather late, by the time I know about Ika was after “Twivortiare 2” was launched, so I didn’t have the experience of waiting for the continuity of Alex and Beno and instead I got to marathon-read “DIvortiare” “Twivortiare” and “Twivortiare 2” all at once. I still remember it, because buying all three books all at once definitely made me broke for the month and have to minimize my spending for the rest of month, as I blew my monthly budget for books on her books alone, and afterward as I become a fan of hers, the next month I bought the rest of Ika’s already launched books and also make me almost blew my budget again. Ika also slipped pas characters here and there throughout the books and it also make me happy to read it all. Ika may not have released a lot of books,  but in each and every one of her books, always made me happy to read her books. What I love about Ika’s work is that she created characters with real life problems and dynamics. For example Alex is a banker and although I don’t really understand the dynamics of banking world, I got to sympathize and correlate with Alex with her problems at work and also she seem to be very down to earth. Maybe it’s because Ika is also a real life banker, that’s why she could delivered a realistic stories with daily life struggles of a banker, a housewife and also a surgeon’s wife. During my fan-ship with Ika, I have the pleasure of getting two more of her new books. And apparently, she also prepped a special version with her newest book to give to limited lucky fans who succeeded the Pre-Order event. First was “Critical Eleven” which was developed from a short story of hers, and later developed into a novella. Ika prepared 1.111 signed copies of the books with limited items as gimmick and of course, being naïve and overtly optimistic, I waited up with excitement until the scheduled PO date to actually ordered a copy of it. But you know what? Despite my best attempts, I failed at getting a copy. Yup, I FAILED! I went to several stages of grief when I failed the PO, much to my dismay all 1.111 copies were sold out in just 11 minutes! Crazy? Yes, I do believe that Ika’s fans are definitely all crazy about her. Especially since Ika keep giving us a teaser one after another to keep the hype of “Critical Eleven” going up and up through her own social media pages. I become bitter about her PO, to the point of even missing out the released of her first book called “Underground”. “Underground” was actually the first book she wrote and it is being re-printed by major publisher, but I got really down with the previous failed attempts that I didn’t joint the PO was. And after I almost forget the pain of the bloody PO war, this year, I faced another challenge of another launching and PO war for her newest baby “The Architecture of Love” aka TAoL, this time, she do the PO in several stages, and even though I went at the PO less enthusiastically and more pessimistic that I will actually get the signed version, when I again FAILED the PO, I feel like I want to just rolled up at the floor and cry endlessly. Both time during the PO war, the online book store web pages crashed just whenever I just confirmed my order (cry cry cry). So in the end, despite the pain in my heart, I resolved myself to get ordinary version of the book instead, although until now, I still held grudges about all the “Bloody PO War” as her fans called it. In her newest books aka TAoL, Ika managed to make me feel like I’m in the middle of New York where the book background are being set. Feel like I was cruising along the Big Apple alongside the characters as well. The way Ika described even the teeniest tiny details of New York make me who never set my foot in New York feel like I’m there. I could event visualize the view from each scene, thanks to the illustration of the scene by Ika herself, yup, not only she’s a talented author, she’s also a great illustrator. She managed to bring the characters alive each and every time really marks her down as my favorite Indonesian author nowadays. I cringe for the next books announcement but also excited at once, I am not sure I could survive another disappointment of failed PO again, but being able to read her newest book, definitely is the icing on top of a cake.

Now, it’s up to all of you to actually read their work or not, but I’m sure that if you decide to do and read their works, it will not be in vain, you are going in for a treat and enjoy the roller coaster ride of each stories. And now that I still have day off, it’s time for me to re-read some stories and the true struggles that I face now is that which author should I read now? And which book? Hmmm……………….

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