Friday, 22 June 2018

Marge and the Secret Tunnel by Isla Fisher and Eglantine Ceulemams (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

May 2018, Piccadilly Press, 144 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Book summary

Life with Marge is NEVER boring! She has rainbow hair, goes skiing in the middle of summer and is the best babysitter anyone could wish for.

And maybe - just maybe - Marge can help Jemima and Jakey work out who (or what) is at the end of the secret tunnel. 

Nayu's thoughts
I was extremely pleased to review another Marge book, and also very sad because this is the last in the series. I'd hoped it would go on for more than 4 books, but it's not to be. It made reading this final instalment bittersweet. Thankfully it's as good as the other books, more so because of where Jemima and Jakey end up travelling to. 

Marge whisks them away on an adventure which I caught elements of truth in what happened, especially at the end. The whole concept of Marge taking the siblings places and doing things their parents wouldn't let them do is one I'm sure all readers will love as much as I do. Like Jemima at times I sometimes wondered how their antics get cleared up before her parents return home because Marge may be in charge but she can create quite a mess. Yet with a bit of what seems like magic Marge keeps being rehired to babysit Jemima and her brother

I've enjoyed how the series has taken ordinary life events and made them amazing - these including and aren't limited to travelling on a train, going to a pool (or a beach, can't quite remember which), being stuck with a baby/toddler who is a brat, going to a wedding, and tunnel exploring. It makes them less daunting with Marge there to create havoc, something Jemima in particular appreciates because like me she likes to do things right and not get into trouble. Her brother is a bit more carefree, something she learns too thanks to having Marge in their life. Marge's home life must be fascinating - she is royalty (sort of), and must have an amazing collection of items in her home, wherever that is. 

More so in this last book I saw how who Marge is and what she does with Jemima and Jakey is mostly imagination fuelled, with little hints left in chapters indicating what probably happened was less exciting than the imagined goings on. Knowing that didn't pull me out of the book's spell, if anything it draws me in more because I like how clever the writing is, how Isla weaves the tale around ordinary things into something that's interesting, and how Eglantine draws Marge and her charges having the best time of their lives (almost always) which compliments Isla's writing so well. I really hope both Isla and Eglantine will get to work on future books together! Do check this series out in the suggested read area below.

You can see more of Eglantine's work on her website, which is in French (She is from Belgium).

Suggested reads


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Belated Happy Eid 2018!

Super sorry it's late but a very happy Eid Mubarak! The month of Ramadan is over for another year. I'd had my mega strong meds before it ended hence why I haven't been online as I've been feeling properly rubbish-initially I'm very happy & floaty but it's safer if I stay offline during the entire process to save you from my ramblings. I hope everyone who celebrated had a great Ramadan, and may we all see the next one! My celebrations included lots of gaming especially with my friend Miku who I'd missed a lot ^u^ Love how one artist changed their clothes for something slightly more appropriate. 
So cute! This may be the wrong Eid & year, but it's still an Eid picture!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Nayu's Gaming Time #12 I'm exploring a whole new world

This is in a real game!
...that isn't Disney's Little Mermaid. Well, I can if I hop over to Disney Magical World 
This game is awesome! Yes there's an English version which I got my cousin addicted to
which I haven't been on for ages, 
There's the entrance to Ariel's kingdom! And it's my actual game play.
but for now I'm in another world! The world of...
It arrived several days ahead of schedule on Wednesday. The sequel is on the Nintendo Switch which I hope to be getting in October. The not so epic E3 Nintendo event revealed there's an expansion to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in September, so I'll have even more to explore in the sequel. For now I'm happily looking forward to spending many hours explore what the first game on a system that I can play holds for me. I saw a review for the sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 the other day,
Awesome looking character in the 2nd game!
 so I investigated and since it was at a sensible price bought the first game. Yay! 

This week I've also played 2 PS4 demos (which I never do).  I tried Lost Sphere 
which was cool because I could change into a mecha character on screen but it just didn't have that zing so I stopped playing and deleted it. I did exactly the same for Shining Resonance Refrain 

but not because I didn't like it! Again I only saw this advertised the other week, and after seeing the main characters use musical instruments, be adorable, and turn into dragons I knew I needed this game. 
 It's out in July, so just a few weeks to go and for once in a long time I've pre-ordered it. I've not been this excited since both the sequel to Final Fantasy 10 (Final Fantasy 10-2) came out 
Sadly not an ingame costume but some awesome FF10-2 fanart of best girl Yuna! (Yes Nayu is a switched around letter version of that Summoner's name.)

and when I got Project Diva Future Tone

The gameplay for Shining Resonance Refrain is sheer bliss! Sadly can't jump but I can live with that. You'll find out more once I get my hands on it. 

Do you know who this is?
By the time this gets posted I hope to start replaying Tales of Vesperia - it's getting a remastered edition, which has a lot more stuff in, which I'll put on my wishlist but due to cost isn't a priority since I'm saving for a Nintendo Switch + Let's Go Eevee + a Mario game + Xenoblade Chronicles 2 so yeah, getting an enhanced copy of game I've already got is way down on my list of priorities. 

I loved it without all the extras that Japan got so I'm happy ^u^ Estelle is my favourite character, if you hadn't already guessed. Until I can play it I'll be enjoying the opening song again & again & again! 
There's my girl! Happy gaming!

The Great Telephone Mix-up by Sally Nicholls and Sheena Demspy (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10E)

April 2018, Barrington Stoke, 96 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Barrington Stoke
When the village wires get crossed after a storm, there’s a lot of confusion and plenty of missed connections. Margaret can’t run her summer fair, Jai can’t speak to Aditi, and Will is rather happy because no one can tell his mum how much trouble he’s in! Can the villagers learn to love their neighbours and could the great telephone mix-up really be a blessing in disguise?

Nayu's thoughts
I was intrigued by how telephone lines could be mixed, as well as liking Sheena's previous work and I wasn't disappointed by this book! The reason for the crossed telephone wires was believable. I loved how it forced people who ordinarily wouldn't say hi to each other not only to chat because passing on the other person's message was the polite thing to do, but they enjoyed it and continued their new found friendships after the phones finally got fixed. 

As a reader it reminded me people often juggle more than they are letting on, or are too shy to ask an important question which could change their life in a positive way. There is a real sense of community to the village which wasn't there before the phone incident, the most pleasing outcome was someone recognising a character needed help (this is vague on purpose because several characters are helped but one in particular made me extremely happy because sometimes a person just needs 1 opportunity to change their life around). Obviously I was thrilled a cat featured in the tale which has a happy ending. The community spirit here feels replicated in real life whenever we have a power cut or lots of snow making ordinary travel tricky. As usual Barrington Stoke have awesome books in easy to read off white pages and clear fonts.

Find out more on Sally's website and Sheena's website

Suggested read

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Colour My Days by Ross Collins (Children's, Picture book, 9/10E)

March 2018, Barrington Stoke, 32 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Book summary from Barrington Stoke
Emmy and Jeff live in a black and white world. But suddenly, the week has started with a splash of yellow and each new day brings a new colour into Emmy and Jeff’s lives. Join them as they explore all the colours in the rainbow!

Nayu's thoughts 
This book is literally bursting with colour, filling Emmy and Jeff's life with joy and new experiences. I love how there are so many things crammed into a page filled with 1 colour. It was interesting how Jeff seemed happier with pink than Emmy, how many creatures and items are predominantly one colour, how certain colours are associated with specific things yet in reality can be other colours. It is always good to have new experiences in life, although Emmy and Jeff learn everything needs to be in moderation-at one point there are so many colours it becomes overwhelming for them. 

This is a brilliant book for readers learnig about their world, as I'm sure it will encourage naming objects for certain colours, and finding new hobbies simply from seeing Emmy and Jeff trying new activities.While not quite 100% my preferred illustration style and colours I did enjoy this book and highly recommend it as a fun read which subtly teaches readers about the world we live in. 

Find out more on Ross's website

Suggested read

Rozen Maiden volume 1 by Peach Pit (Manga, Young Adult, Fantasy, 10E/10E)

May 2006, Tokyopop, 192 pages, Paperback, Personal copy 

Book summary from Publishers Weekly on Amazon 
The genre of "awkward young man meets bizarre/supernatural/extra-dimensional/space alien female and all manner of wacky hijinx ensue" has been endlessly rehashed, from the prototypical Urusei Yatsura to countless knockoffs, including Peach Pit's own DearS. This volume goes down that familiar path, adding only a slightly more sinister edge than its predecessors. Jun is a high school dropout who spends his days ordering items from the Internet and sending them back for laughs, but his feeble prank backfires when he receives a "Rozen Maiden" named Shinku. The doll comes to obnoxious life when wound up by a key inserted into her back. Instantly treating Jun with disdain, Shinku attempts to groom him into her manservant while revealing that the antique mirror owned by his parents is actually a doorway into the "N-Field," the nexus of alternate realities. Charged with protecting the living doll by "the Spirit Hollier," Jun and Shinku embark on a transdimensional odyssey, the purpose of which will presumably be made clear in the next installment. Peach Pit's cutesy/goth manga art is coupled with a story that hits all the usual notes.

Nayu's thoughts
Sadly I only have this volume in the incredible series that I first saw as an anime. It can get a bit creepy, but overall it is a fun read, looking at what life is like for shut-ins who feel they can't face the outside world for some reason so literally don't leave their house. I adored the anime, primarily because of how cute Shinku is-just look at her gorgeous dress! She and the other Rozen Maidens who are way more than a living doll have similar styles but immensely different and strong powers. I like how Shinku has her own tiny tea cup, how she can run out of energy then needs recharging (if only I could recharge my energy low body in the same fashion)
This is what Shinku looks like when Jun first gets her, so sweet and gentle. She can be those characteristics, but not that often!
Just like the anime in the manga it is funny how obsessed Jun's sister whose name I've forgotten becomes with Shinku, trying to take care of her every need, and being overly enthusiastic about it. While I'm not 100% comfy with Shinku treating Jun as her slave, I like watching their bond grow, not just because of the ring that's a symbol of their relationship which keeps them together but Jun genuinely cares for her and wants to make sure she is ok. Having his own toys attack him is on the creepy side, but what he does to later fix one is a touching moment. He may have a lot of issues to deal with but deep down he has compassion for others which hopefully one day he can give himself.

There is a lot of humour, both from how Jun/Shinku/Jun's sister interact with each other, how Shinku learns about the world including her mistake in the bathroom, how Shinku is so particular over tea preparation, how much Jun's sister dotes on Shinku that it balances the darker and weirder parts of the story.  I think I prefer the anime because the manga is a little different (& not in colour...) but overall I love it and look forward to collecting more in the series one day! 

Suggested watch
Another anime which is similarly convoluted although doesn't involve living dolls is Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning I've seen the anime but not read the manga. 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland (Contemporary fiction, 10E/10E)

 April 2018, Zaffre, 432 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Zaffre
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father. Have her friends left her behind? She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.
She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

Nayu's thoughts
I've always been intrigued by how transplant patients feel about their new organ(s), mostly because I watch the BBC drama Holby which has them, plus I've seen a few on hospital shows so reviewing this was an obvious choice for me. I liked how Ailsa delved back into her pre-transplant days which are emotional and perfectly capture the trials of living with a limited amount of energy. I loved the part where she talks about working out if she had the energy to do something and whether it was worth making herself a bit worse because I do this many times a day as part of my own non-transplant needing condition. 

I liked how her friend didn't have a successful transplant in the sense that all sides of transplants were addressed. There's the obvious change of having a chance at life which Ailsa has to get her head around, the grief and guilt of knowing someone didn't make it when she did, and the perhaps unthought of relationship change obetween Ailsa and her mum which brought more heartache then either of them expected. 

Seb's presence brought Ailsa a new perspective on life along with a lot of laughs and a few tears, it was a sweet relationship that Ailsa cohldn't have had before her transplant, and at times struggled with because of the negative aspects from being with someone the public see as a celebrity. The fact that Ailsa blogged was fun to read because I also blog, although I felt sad that she relied so much on other people's views of what she should do in life. I wished she had more self-confidence to make both big and small choices on her own without public opinion, but she slowly learns that through the mistakes she makes and advice her friends give. 

It's always good to remember that there people in worse situations that you, that ill and/or dying  people can have a bizarre sense of humor, and that everyone is trying to find their way in a complex world that Aisla can explore more fully with her new heart. 

Note: only by putting this post together have I just found out the reason why everything is so realistic is because Stephanie has dealt with cancer herself. Google her name to find information on this including a Youtube interview/clip thingymajig. 

Be sure to keep up to date with Stephanie on Twitter.

Suggested read
I've got two reads for you: another that touches on cancer is The Sisters Club by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, 9/10E)

and for a true tale of fighting cancer with all the highs and lows check out Tea and Chemo by Jackie Buxton (Non-Fiction, Memoir, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)