Monday, 2 May 2016

Deeply, Darkly, Beautifully by Megan Tayte (Young Adult, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 February 2016, Heaven Afire, 313 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Content: dark themes, some violence, humour
 
Book Summary
The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated – and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread impels a great unravelling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.
 
Nayu's thoughts A perfect twist filled end to an awesome series. It's truly beautiful. This review is short because I could wax lyrical how so many truths come to light which dramatically impact on Scarlett and all other Ceruleans, how the ending is unexpected yet perfect, which fits the previous endings of the other books. 

I could go on about how all of Scarlett's friends and frenemies are a huge support even when she pushes them away, how watching the sisters slowly mend their fractured relationship is sweet, and how much I adore Cara and Estelle for their enthusiasm and much needed humour. Go read this book, and the rest to find out why it's awesome!!!

Find out more on Megan's website

The Very Cold Freezing No-Number Day by Ashley N Sorenson and David Miles (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E, short n' sweet review)

March 2016, Familius, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Familius
Oh no! It is a very, VERY cold day, and all the numbers have frozen!

Children must trace, blow on, and count the numbers to unfreeze them, and in the process, they will learn colors, seasons, patterns, and numbers. An interactive, educational experience, The Very Cold, Freezing, No-Number Day is sure to be a household and classroom favorite.
  

Nayu's thoughts 
I've never read an interactive book that sweeps me up and has me full engrossed like this counting tale. I really was convinced the numbers were disappearing, so did every action asked to save them. The vast range of colours makes the pages a pleasure to look act, teamed up with appropriate comments in the story. Younger readers will love it! 

Find out more on David's website


Chewy Noh and the March of Death by Tim Learn (Young Adult, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

January 2016, Amazon, 232 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Content: some violence, lots of peril

Book summary
Chewy Noh should be happy. He has a best friend like no other and by using his secret abilities, has found a way to connect Korea and America forever to keep him.
Unfortunately, none of this matters after Death’s messenger comes to tell him that he has one week left to live!

Knowing his death is coming soon, Chewy scrambles to figure out a way to avoid it, but every direction he turns seems to lead him further and further away from his goal—a dead body, a missing person, and at the heart of it, the secret that started that it all.

In the end, if Chewy doesn’t learn how to change, Death might just come out on top. 

Nayu's thoughts
After all the drama of the previous books I was glad when there was plenty more high peril, tense moments, and the odd humourous one which takes a smidge of the edge of the darker parts of Chewy's tale.While reading the previous books will help you understand the story, it's easy enough to jump in as the backstory gets recounted in a non preachy way. 

As usual I love Chewy's cousin Su Bin, who I'm forever wishing had more page time. I was mollified by his grandmother-she is quite a delight to read, very tricky, and oh did I mention her spirit hijacks Chewy's mother's body? 

Su Bin is liked by Clint so she gets more page time when he thinks of her. His view and others feature in the book, which make it easier to get a wider picture of the unfolding events. However, I was bored by a new key character who without giving spoilers away is a blast from the past. I confess to skimming those chapters-it's a male character too, and I just didn't find it interesting.

What was interesting was a certain field of flowers, whose purpose could give you a laughing fit or kill you - I loved that twist of the story. I love how in depth feelings slash emotions are examined through what happens to Clint and Chewy while they try and hide from monsters who want to kill them. It's moee emotional than earlier books, as he two friends have issues to unravel with each oher. The sometimes stilted phrases in previous books are not present in this volume, and the twists and turns forever had me wondering what would happen next. Here's to the next book! 
 

Red Rock Ranch 2: Showdown by Brittney Joy (Young Adult, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

 December 2014, Britnney Joy Press, 220 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Book Summary
Taylor and Lucy mesh together like a tight cinch and a broncy horse – an explosion waiting to happen.

. . . Blonde and sassy, Taylor Johnson is used to guys falling at her feet. Blue ribbons always come easy. And, dropping a grand on new cowboy boots and a pair of chaps is the norm. So why does the new stablehand keep getting under Taylor’s skin?

. . . A newbie to Red Rock Ranch, Lucy Rose is comfortable in a ponytail and jeans. Her makeup routine consists of a dirt smudge and chapstick. And, if she had her choice, she’d spend every minute with her beloved horse, Chance . . . and far away from Taylor, the rodeo princess in need of an attitude adjustment.

But, in a twist neither saw coming, Taylor and Lucy are forced to work together. Will they play nice? Or will their summer at Red Rock Ranch go out in a bang?  

Nayu's thoughts
There are major changes in Taylor and Lucy's friendship! It's hard not to include a spoiler, but I'll do my best not to. Yet again another fab horse themed read from Brittney. While I thought I knew the characters who were in book 1, I soon discovered a whole other side to Taylor, who learns to be nice (eventually). I like that it took time and certain horse centred events for Lucy to see a softer side to Taylor, who continued to wow me with her personality change. 
 
The horsemanship is really high, with events I'd never heard of which had me gripped to my seat as the action ungolded. The horses are sweet with their personalities, and I loved learnig more about riding, although still not understanding what a lead change is. 

The 3rd star of the show who I hope will be in future books is Tiera (sorry if it's not the right spelling). Saying she loves pink is an understatement. My eyes went wide at her introduction, she is so sweet, very enthusiastic, manages not to be tok much and is all round crazy in a wonderful way. She deserves a book which centres more on her: she adores ballet as well as riding, and provides Taylor with a secret weapon to get her own back on someone who mistreated her and deserves a phenomenal punishment, which they duly get. Super eager to reread this, and hope it comes out on audiobook! 

Find out more on the dedicated website


Review + Author Interview: The One-Of-A-Kind Cat by Ciye Cho (Non-fiction, Humour, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

A must read!
2015, 127 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Summary from Ciye's website
THE ONE-OF-A-KIND CAT BOOK is a whimsical treat for cat lovers everywhere. Dive into its pages to meet Catalina the narcissistic movie star, Kit the steampunk genius, and Guillaume the macaron chef. Browse through letters, notes, and photos to learn about mystery cats from Svalbard and the Amazon. Follow a detective as he unravels the crimes of “Murder Kitties.” 

The OOAK Cat Book is a grown-up picture book full of modern themes: a shameless search for fame (or infamy), an obsession with true crime, and our constant need for adventure and kawaii cats. The felines here will guide you to places like Paris, Varanasi, Woodstock, and the Great Barrier Ree

Nayu's thoughts 
I've read Ciye's previous books including Luminaire (Young Adult, 10E/10E mermaid read) so was delighted to see Ciye's cat themed work. An incredible insight in different types of cats with colourful pictures and a variety of article formats eg magazine article, letters, postcards etc. That description doesn't do the book justice, as it is amazing! The vibrant colours used really brings out the specific nature of each cat. I love cats, and found the unique insight fit their heavily changeable nature. 

I haven't done this yet but it's going to be fun working out which cat is most like mine. I enjoy simply looking at the illustrations, which are gorgeous. I'd happily buy merchandise featuring these cats, if any is ever made. They are perfect for cat lovers! 

Find out more on Ciye's website, which currently includes a free copy of the book! You won't be disappointed, promise! Here's a trailer to convince you...




Interview with Ciye Cho

Nayu: As I was already a fan of Ciye's mermaid series, I jumped at the chance to review The One-Of-A-Kind Cat book, plus the chance to chat to Ciye about what is an incredible read. 

What inspired you to produce such an incredible book about cats? 
Ciye: I've always been fascinated by cats. Someone recently asked me, “Why do you think cats are such a force on the Internet?” I paused for a while, then said, “Maybe because we see so much of ourselves in them.” Admittedly, I was just ‘throwing that out there’ without much thought. But what if that’s true? What if cats are a reflection of our quirks, eccentricities, and individual traits? Hmm… maybe I’m overthinking this. But hey, who doesn’t like looking at pictures of cats? 
 
How did you decide on which colours to use for each section? 
The concept behind each piece is a big influence on my color choices. For example, I wanted tie-dye-inspired colors for the hippy cats (to channel a trippy ’60s vibe). To me, color is a great way to convey some visual whimsy. 

How did you decide on each section? 
Each section revolves around a unique cat (or set of cats), so the sections came naturally. In essence, the OOAK Cat Book is a kooky compilation. The 16 different sections document the lives of 33 cats. It’s not just a story about cats, or just artwork, it involves much more which makes it incredibly realistic (and amusing to read) 

What made you decide to produce it like this, instead of in a different format? 
I wanted to tell stories without “telling stories”. I didn’t want to start each chapter with a chunk of exposition (e.g. “Once upon a time, there was a cat named so-and-so…”). Instead, I wanted folks to read magazine articles, explore clues, and piece together adventures through letters. For example, instead of telling you that Catalina is a narcissistic diva, I thought it would be fun to show her in a magazine article. What better way to understand her than via the lens of celebrity? (By the way, you can check out Catalina on Twitter @CatalinaTheStar — last I heard, she was at the Star Wars premiere in Paris!) I also wanted to show glimpses of far-off lands, so I tried to not only flesh out cats—but also foreign lands like Varanasi and Svalbard. 

Are any of the cats covered modelled on your own? (I’m guessing you have/had some) 
I grew up around cats, and all of them were definitely one-of-a-kind. No two felines are truly alike, and that is a grand truth that I’ve always been aware of… Thank you for the questions, Jessica!

The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book is currently only available via www.ciyecats.com
 

What are YOU reading? #312












What are you reading on Monday? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you post books completed last week and plans for upcoming books. Jump over to her blog and see who else is participating.



READ

Image result for Mystery and Mayhem by The Crime Club

Mystery and Mayhem by The Crime Club
Children's, 9 years +
9/10E
(12 crime themed stories by 12 popular children's crime writers...)





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Back in the Day by Jess Bright
Children's, 11 years +, Young Adult
10E/10E
(Going back in time and seeing her no longer dead mum gives Daisy incredible memories...)
 



Image result for The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan
Children's, 9 years +
10E/10E
(Fantastically realistic look at what could happen in a chocolate shortage!)




 
Image result for The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard
Romance, Contemporary, Shop fiction
10/10E
(A holiday in a French guest house is a life changer for Emmy...)























REREAD

Image result for Suzunari

Suzunari:  Vol 1 & 2
Slice of Life manga, English version
REREAD - 10E/10E
(This is such an adorable 2 volume series with Suzu having cat ears and her real identity being a wonderful, if a little heart-wrenching when it finally gets revealed. A school themed manga that makes me laugh!)
 








LISTENED

Image result for Aikatsu caramelizer

Aiktasu songs
Music Idol anime, Japanese version
10E/10E
(...with a return favourite of Carameliser by Kokone and Nadeshiko – their outfits are as sweet as the song which always lifts me up.)



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Clannad soundtrack
Music Idol anime, Japanese version
10E/10E
(Totally brilliant when I need some music but unable to watch the anime...)









WATCHED


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Kanon!
Slice of Life anime with paranormal element, Japanese version
REWATCH - 10E/10E
(Cue lots of tears when Makoto disappears, even though I know the lovely miracle at the very end of the series [which isn't yet]!)




Image result for Love Live School Idol Project: Season 1

Love Live School Idol Project: Season 1
Music Idol anime, Japanese version
REWATCH - 10E/10E
(At last Eli has joined the group! She is funny in her resistance to it...)




Image result for Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Magical Girl anime, Japanese version
REWATCH - 10/10E
(Super cute minus a bit of mature content, managed reasonably fine without subs which was good as I was too tired to watch them...)




Image result for aikatsu ichigo and aoi

Aikatsu: Season 1
Music Idol anime, Japanese version
REWATCH - 10E/10E
(It's hilarious having Ran be super stern to Ichigo and Aoi considering they become some amazing friends!)









CRAFT GAMES AND MORE
Due to reaction to super strong pain meds I've barely done any craft this week.

I've gamed a little, finally getting the hang of Atelier Rorona after 5th go with months & months going by between retrys. I don't like time limited games, but I've worked out I need to do the quest first then go explore. I'm on the original version, not the remake.

Image result for Atelier Rorona

I've also got a smidge further with Final Fantasy X – Yuna had to do the sending of souls at Kilika, and I haven't got further than that yet because I go engrossed with Atelier Rorona.

Image result for Final Fantasy X – Yuna


I haven't quite baked this week, though I did try a breakfast smoothie of banana, milk, spinach, mixed berries, flax seed and honey which was way more delicious than I expected. Will repeat it & do a blog post on it soon as I didn't take a pic when I made it.