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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cardcaptor Sakura anime entire series (Magical Girl, 10/10E, semi short 'n' sweet review)

Sakura transformed with Kero
I have far too few anime reviews on this blog. I aim to change that over the next few months! Those of you who know me relatively well online know how passionate (try obsessed) I am with anime, especially ones which are mega cute. After several years I've finally finished Cardcaptor Sakura! The end wasn't quite a let down, as I'd read ahead to see if I could handle the conclusion. It misses gaining the magical 'e' ranking simply because with some of the difficulties Sakura faced earlier in the series, the end battles were hard but not as super scary as I'd expected them to be. The reason I'd held off from continuing watching it was due to the odd dark episode which I didn't like at all. So, if you don't like scary things don't fear, Cardcaptor Sakura is safe! 

For those of you who like collectors editions, here are the covers of mine. 
So cute!

Also so cute!!
The only reason I've got it is because Amazon France has an amazing anime collection, which so happened to be special edition for these dvds. I don't care about what a cover looks like, but I do think they are pretty. I could have Japanese (with French subs), but because I mostly watch anime when I'm tired I stuck with the French version which has a few name variations but they didn't matter at all. 

Small tangent coming up!
For new blog readers, I can understand 90-95% of French, so it's like watching English, only cooler because English can be dull compared to other languages. (Totally all my opinion). Japanese is uber cool, but I don't know it as well, and it's harder work on my brain than French.

Back to the subject of this post...
Oh, I guess you need a bit of info about what Sakura is's some info from CCS Wikia  (all credit to them)

Cardcaptor Sakura was adapted into an anime television series by the animation studio Madhouse.[1] The manga creators, CLAMP, were fully involved in the project, with head writer Nanase Ōkawa writing and composing the series' screenplay and Mokona Apapa overseeing the costumes and card designs.

Directed by Morio Asaka, the series premiered on NHK on April 7, 1998 where it ran for seventy episodes until its conclusion on March 21, 2000. The series was also aired across Japan by the anime satellite television network, Animax, who later broadcast the series across its respective networks worldwide. The series also has two movies.

The series focuses on eleven-year old Sakura Kinomoto, a fourth grade elementary school student who discovers that she possesses exceptionally strong magical powers after accidentally freeing a set of fifty-two Cards' from a magic book in which they had been sealed for years. She is tasked with retrieving those cards in order to avoid an unknown catastrophe from befalling the world and is thus chosen by Keroberos as the Cardcaptor. 

Reasons why I love Sakura: I love her magical girl transformations, they are a huge reason for loving the show. Each episode has a different outfit - more details below - but that in itself is super squee! 
Like this one!
I adore the different 'magic' power she gained from each card - how she has to figure out which card/s to use to 'beat' another.
Cards can look like this (I don't think this is a fan art one...)
 I also love the sweet relationship she has with her brother, who knows way more than he lets on. The way they annoyed each other was funny. 

The whole background story of collecting the cards is important...but I really loved Sakura's mega rich friend who is called Tiffany in the French version. 
She spends a lot of time looking like this
 Her mother is so powerful that she has to have her own bodyguards...although they either ignore the adventures she goes on with Sakura or simply aren't there because Tiffany gets put in danger but they don't appear.  She has the best technology...which now looks dated but then was top of the range. 
Tiffany searching for something
She is totally into Sakura, and creates exquisite outfits for Sakura to wear when off on her adventures. A video camera is never far from Tiffany's hands as she likes to capture the action to treasure forever (and gets quite upset when she misses out on doing just that). 
See? It's literally in her hand!
As Sakura's close friend Tiffany features in pretty much all of the episodes, which kept me happy. 

There's heaps more to say about the other characters, both her family, friends & enemies,  who provide a mild romance interest, lots more laughs, mystery, danger etc but I need to go, so hopefully I'll chat more about this series another time. Enter the title into any search engine and you'll get more than enough information about it. I'd like to collect all the manga one day, and see how different it is to the anime. I'm wary of watching the 2nd movie as the 1st movie proved too scary for me to watch again. 

editions of the movies which I've got
Sakura & Tiffany having fun - I can't remember if this is fan art or not. Either way it's cute!

So go, check out this super fun anime! You won't be disappointed!
That's a Nayu promise!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Knight's Tale #1 Getting by Claudia Burgoa (New Adult, 8/10E, semi short 'n' sweet review)

February 2014, Createspace, 306 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Summary from Claudia's website
When Emma Anderson arrived at San Francisco International Airport, she regretted accepting the distinction of being the maid of honor to Gaby’s—her childhood friend—wedding. It had been years since the last time she set foot in Menlo Park, where her parents had been killed. The rug where she had been shoving her feelings since that day looked bumpier than a camel’s hump. Who could blame her; if she hadn’t been selfish they’d still be around. Ever since that fateful day, Emma has been perfecting the knack of Getting By.
Cade’s wedding in Menlo Park—a city close to San Francisco—might be the perfect place for Jake Knight to shake the memories of his ex, Emma Anderson for good. Single, available women galore for an entire week was the perfect medication, one he intended to take three times a day for an entire week to return to his player days. It was a plan the former spy thought flawless until he came face to face with the maid of honor. Jake’s perfect retreat turns into a flight, fight or hide week of celebrations.
Nayu's thoughts
I'm still relatively new to the New Adult genre, but Claudia has created an interesting series. From the summary alone I was pretty hooked. Emma has some severe emotional baggage, which combined with what ends up being more dangerous than she expected pre-wedding events kept me turning the pages as fast as I could read them. The humour was always well timed, taking the edge off a few seriously nasty moments where I found breathing a bit tricky. I'm a huge fan of books with family values at their heart, which earns Emma's story a place on my shelf.

Now, you may be wondering about the grade. I think it might have been more a case of what mood I was in when I read the book, rather than there actually being anything 'bad'. I did get a bit frustrated at how poor the communication between some of the characters was, but again I think that was more me than the book itself.
Find out more (including info on A Knight's Tale #2!!!) on Claudia's website.

Suggested read
One of my favourite New Adult reads is If I Forget You by Michelle Davidson Argylle (New Adult, 10E/10E)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Blog Tour: Review of Viva Alice! by Judi Curtin + Q&A (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

The cover has a holiday feel to it, don't you think?
August 2014, O'Brien Press, 240 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Themes: friendship, school holidays, going abroad, adventure, mild crush,
Content: mild teen romance, oodles of hilarity
Summary from The O'Brien Press
Alice and Megan go to Lanzarote with Grace, for some fun in the sun. But life's never simple when Alice is around, and now she wants to fix Grace’s brother’s love life! Alice's schemes seem crazy, but sometimes she really can sort things out. Maybe Megan just needs to trust her best friend – even if it means helping mean girl, Melissa ...
Nayu here: there is a blurb with more description on the website which gives away some of the story, which is why I opted for the shorter one
Nayu's thoughts
Alice is a certified lunatic, but I love her to bits. My younger self was definitely more like quiet Meghan, and Grace is well, Grace! I was impressed with Alice's gung-ho attitude, and a little wary of what the consequences of her idea of fun will be. This is the first time I've met her and her friends, and it's not going to be the last. I always dreamed of going on holiday abroad with friends when I was younger - it never happened, which is perhaps why I was so captivated with Alice's eventful trip. 
Initially the trip wasn't involving all three of them, but with some careful manipulation by characters who shall remain nameless the friends ended up having quite an adventure both in and out of the pool. They might want to forget the memorable night where they camped together outside, as it first made me laugh then sober up & feel really sorry for the predicament they find themselves in. It felt like they couldn't avoid being in major trouble, but Judi made sure they had a way out. Phew!
 I loved how their holiday plans didn't necessarily go as hoped, but there was still fun to be had, and they all learnt something valuable to take home with them. What surprised me most of all was what I like to call the second main plot involving the resident mean girl, Melissa. I was more shocked than the camp out scenario, and could see the conflicting thoughts all three friends had regarding the Melissa situation. The end was more than satisfactory for me!
Find out more on Judi's website.
Suggested read
For more holiday fun which I honestly had forgotten was written by Judi is Eva's Holiday (Children's, 10 years +, 10E/10E) 
Question and Answer session with Judi!
The lovely Judi!
It is with great pleasure that I was able to ask Judi a few questions about Viva Alice - including that memorable night which I won't spoil for you. Thank you Judi for answering them, and for writing such an exciting read! It goes to show you don't have to read a series from book 1 to enjoy it ^o^
Nayu Q1: This 8th book is the first in the series which I've read and I'm totally hooked. Alice is decidedly bonkers. Can you say who she is based on? 
Judi: Oh, dear, poor Alice! She might be a bit bonkers, but she’s also very kind and well-intentioned. She’s not based on anyone real, but as I was a timid child (like Megan), I always dreamed of a brave, fun friend like Alice. She’s the imaginary friend I never had.

Nayu Q2: Friends going on holiday together seems the ultimate trip: was there something you wanted the girls to experience that couldn't happen if they'd been at home? 
Judi: The story could easily have taken place in Ireland, but I love sending my characters abroad. Conveniently, in an earlier book, I’d given Grace a summer house in Lanzarote, so it was easy to send the girls there.

Nayu Q3: Is any part of that fateful night on a balcony true? If yes, which part? (oops - tiny spoiler here!)
Judi: It was inspired by a story someone told me a long time ago, but the person who told me definitely does not want a writing credit, so I can’t go into any more detail!

Nayu Q4: My word is pretty much all I can say about the Melissa situation. Poor Megan. I can see this happening in reality-is that why you included it in the story, to show readers forgiving your enemy is hard but sometimes necessary? 
Judi: Forgiveness is generally a good idea, I think. When my children were small, if they were being picked on by someone, I always told them that bullying says a lot about the bully, but absolutely nothing about you.

Nayu Q5: Where is your favourite place to write? Do you have a favourite food and drink to get those words out? 
Judi: I write in a corner of my kitchen/living room. Not very exciting, I’m afraid. I snack on green tea and almonds, so not really a rock and roll lifestyle.

Monday, 25 August 2014

What are YOU reading? #232

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.


The Phoenix Presents: How To Make Awesome Comics by Neill Cameron
Children's, Non-Fiction
(Great tips for comic making as well as a few story tips for writers too!)

Angela Nicely Superstar! by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts
Children's, 5 years +
(Angela has to find a talent, goes on a nature trail and plays football-just not all at once!)

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? By Liz Kessler
Children's, 9 years +
(Jess's life changes mostly for the better when she becomes invisible, although she ends up in a lot of scary situations too!)

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
Food Fiction
(Another fascinating read from Jenny about a chocolate shop in Paris and how it changes two women's lives...)

Going Home by Cliff McNish
Children's, 7 years +
(I may prefer cats but his tale from the animals' point of view made me cry and smile...a lot!)

Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor by Julie Anne Grasso
Children's, 9 years +
(A charming sleuthing story...)

The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse
Children's, 9 years +
(Must be read with tissues in hand, especially if you love animals!)


Cardcaptor Sakura:  Season 2
Anime, Japanese
(I finished it! Taken a few years but we won't go into that. It ended up being not as dark as expected, and it a rather sweet!)

Princess Sara (A Little Princess)
REWATCH! - Anime, French
(Poor Sara feels alone when all the other girls go on holiday – even Becky gets sent away for the next episode...)

Holby City
Drama, English
(A really good episode if you were me [poor Jac was misunderstood. She is not as cold as she seems], although a friend thought it was ok...)

Drama, English
(I'm being generous...yet another episode I wasn't fond of.)

Once Upon A Time:  Season 1 & 2
(The story is coming along in leaps and bounds. I love all the layers, I don't like the scary beast in season 2, but I've been told it doesn't appear very much. Phew! I'm not sure if I'd watch it again, but I'm fully enjoying it this time around!)

Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream
REWATCH! - Anime, Japanese
(Very excited as tonight I'll be watching the episode where Mion appears! Yay!)

Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live
REWATCH! - Anime, Japanese
(Still at the stage where Beru is an antagonist, but I love her because of it.)

Puri Para/Pri Para
Anime, Japanese
(It continues to be AMAZING!!! So lovely and upbeat. *happy sigh*)

Jewelpet Tinkle
Anime, Japanese
(Akari gets another Jewelstar – whoohoo!)

Craft, Games & More
It's been a semi-busy week craft wise I finished one baby blanket and started a blanket for a young girl in my family. It's cute and has girly colours; lots of pink & purple!

I've been branching out with my gaming this week. As well as the 3 10E/10E regulars...

Ice Age Village 
My Little Pony 
Littlest Pet Shop 

....I've been getting back into Diner Dash Deluxe for Kindle! I'm proud to say you don't need to use boosts to clear each level or get expert score in this 10E/10E game. I refuse to use them as I'm not fond on them in this particular version. Once I get started, I have to keep going until I finish the levels. I'm cutting back on gaming for a little while as it means I've read less, which although is fun doesn't get review books read. So limited time only for gaming! Otherwise I can spend hours on it ^o^

Learning How To Speak by Crystal Vaughn (Young Adult, Non-Fiction 10E/10E)

August 2013, Fierce Fiction, 29 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Summary from Fierce Fiction
In her creative non-fiction piece Learning How To Speak, debut author Crystal Vaughan delves back into her teen years which were filled with frequent bullying, feelings of isolation, and depression. She tells of not fitting in, a rocky homelife and having the first of many anxiety attacks. Vaughan wrote the short to help deconstruct the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues, especially in teenagers.

The writing of the piece is timely, with the recent passing of new cyberbullying laws in Nova Scotia after the suicide of bullied teen Rehtaeh Parsons.

“Depression and anxiety is something that should be openly talked about and better understood by those who struggle with it, their loved ones and society as a whole,” says Vaughan, winner of the 35th Atlantic Writing Competition for non-fiction. “Many teenagers face mental health issues in addition to bullying, hormonal imbalances and significant life changes, and they often feel alone or invisible. These teens need to know that they’re not alone and that help is available.”

Learning How To Speak shows that while high school can be hell for some, it does end and things can get better.

Twenty per cent of proceeds will go to HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development.

Nayu's thoughts
First of all I have to say I really admire the authors who’ve written these Fierce Shorts. All of them are recounting difficult issues that they’ve managed to get to the other side of. I’m certain the others are as accurate and compelling to read as Crystal’s. People can veer away from the darker side of depression & anxiety – self-harm & suicidal thoughts. Crystal shows how normal such thoughts can feel to the person at the time and how rational they seem. Most people aren’t totally doolally (crazy), they are ‘normal’ people struggling to cope with their life circumstances so the wiring in their brains goes a little off course and remains in the not quite right circuit. 

Admitting to both yourself and someone that you have mental health issues is far from easy, yet is the biggest step someone like Crystal can take. When everything came to a head Crystal began the long road to recovery – which is a word I’m reluctant to use because mental health issues are prone to returning, and sometimes they never go away, it’s more a case of learning how to deal with the ups and downs of depression. The self-harm parts, like the rest of the book, seemed entirely normal to Crystal, although she knew it wasn’t quite right to think about it. They  may be hard to read if you haven’t looked at the topic before, but the thought processes behind wanting to hurt herself are in context and are an outlet for extremely strong emotions which she had yet to find a healthier way to dealing with. 

I like reading Crystal’s thoughts at the end on how she managed to not only write about this part of her, but managed to read it out loud to an audience which included people she knew. That takes enormous courage, and I hope that some people who may be going through similar situations read Crystal’s story and feel able to take the first step in improving their mental health. 

Find out more on Crystal's website.

Suggested read
Another read involving self-harm is Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Working On My Novel by Cory Arcangel (Non-Fiction, 8/10E, semi short 'n' sweet review)

The pencil illustrations suited the feel of the book

July 2014, Penguin, 144 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from Cory's website (Penguin UK was being stubborn & wouldn't let me online)
Working On My Novel is a book which is based on a twitter feed that re-tweets the best posts featuring the phrase "working on my novel."
What does it feel like to try and create something new? How is it possible to find a space for the demands of writing a novel in a world of instant communication?

(All of the tweets collected in this book are used with the permission of the original authors.)

Nayu's thoughts
Being a Twitter user and a writer  had me rather interested on this particular book. Like a Twitter feed it's engaging how different people incorporate the phrase Working On My Novel. As I read it I wondered how Cory decided which tweets should be included, and which shouldn't. It would be rather fascinating to have books compiled of other hash tag, both writing and non-writing related ones. I for one would read them for interest, because it's not always comfy/convenient to read online as Tweets happen. I think this book will help people see how people can connect on Twitter over anything they enjoy (& I suppose anything they hate, although I can't imagine a writer hating writing!). 

The reason for the grade is that I'd expected more tweets in the book, not on per page. I wasn't particularly sold by the part where several of the same quote was printed one after the other - I'd rather have had a few more new entries. 

Suggested read
Another short and snappy read with a totally different agenda is Deadly Diaries by Steve Backshall (Children's, Non-Fiction, 10/10E)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery, Children's, 9 years +, 8/10E, semi short 'n' sweet review)

June 2014, Virago, 352 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Little, Brown
Anne Shirley's children are almost all grown up - except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla, who is now almost fifteen years old. No one can resist Rilla's bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile, and Rilla herself can think no further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse - and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford!

But at the dance, news is brought that England has declared war on Germany. At first, this means little to Rilla, on the threshold of so many new excitements. But as her brothers go off to fight in the Great War and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn baby in a soup tureen, she is swept into a drama that tests her courage and will leave her changed for ever...

Nayu's thoughts
These days I try avoid books with war in almost as much as I avoid the news - I have a tendency to over-think things and get upset easily. However, Rilla's story was intriguing - note that I don't remember reading Anne of Green Gables which Anne Shirley's story is told in). She may have been in love with love, which led to some lost shoes, but, when presented with a baby in a soup tureen (I'm not joking!) she shows great strength of character and responsibility for one so young. Or was she young? All those touched by war mature by some degree or another, Rilla is no exception Sure, she finds it tough looking after her young charge, but her determination to do her best is admirable, and helped some of the descriptions & mentions of war which brought the grade down for me. 

Suggested read
For a more modern read of a girl who has a baby appear before her check out Little Celeste by Dawn McNiff (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)