Saturday, 25 June 2016

Currently ill

Some of you may recognise this pic so know what this post is about. It's a brief hi, sorry not to have posted recently. Became quite ill on Monday all through to today. Pretty much got worse the last few days, however think I may be turning a corner. Won't be blogging until I'm better, so please bear with me. I hate not posting but what I've got is evil and I need rest, rest, & more rest.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Bunnies in the Bathroom by Lucy Daniels (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

The one I read was an older edition
Newest edition 1995, Hodder Children's Books, 160 pages, Paperback, Borrowed from a friend
Summary from Hachette Children's
Animal Ark is the veterinary surgery run by Mandy Hope's parents. If there are animals to be protected or looked after, Mandy is always there to help.
Mandy's new friend John is crazy about rabbits! He's got his heart set on Button and Barney, two baby rabbits in the local pet shop. But when he goes to buy them, they've already been sold! Mandy and James decide to track down the new owner and try to get the bunnies back ... 
Nayu's Thoughts
This is a sweet tale about a lonely boy who loves bunnies and a vet's daughter who brings him bunnies and love for his family, which I borrowed from a friend, Animal Ark is a sweet series that I'm starting to discover thanks to an animal loving book fangirl friend. I learnt a lot about bunnies through John's tale, as he needed the info for a school project and Mandy helped him. I liked that she listened to the advice of the adults around her, using their wisdom and experience so she didn't make too many mistakes. The few she made with her friend James she was eventually able to fix. 
 I have to say I expected the story to go differently, I thought that due to the trouble with the wild bunnies John would end up taking bunnies home and hiding them in the bathroom. It meant what happened was a pleasant surprise, I like it when books for younger readers do that! I hope one day to have a copy of this as it's so adorable, with examples of how to treat people and what to do when you have a problem. 
Find out more on Lucy's website

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Nayu's Gaming Time #1 My Japanese 3DS arrives!!!

Shiny toy which is sucking up most of my free time (including anime time too!)
If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that almost 2 weekends ago (around the 11th June) I tweeted to let you know that a new shiny toy had arrived! It is the reason for the introduction of a new type of post. I've got a Japanese Nintendo 3DS, not an English one. This is because I adore music idol themed Aikatsu! anime, and there are Aikatsu! 3DS games which are only in Japanese. I understand enough Japanese to play the Aikatsu games, and since it is my top anime and a major obsession I decided against the English version just so I can experience what players in Japan do. I bought some Animal Crossing Games too. 
My back cover - Ichigo & Mizuki from Aikatsu!

My front cover with the girls from Aikatsu: from the left there's Yurika, Aoi, Ichigo, Mizuki, Ran, Kaede, Sakura, and Otome. I decorated mine with stickers instead of ordering a pretty cover for it!

This new type of post will be all about my experiences of the games, particularly from the view of a not fluent in Japanese gamer, as there seem to be very few English reviews/thoughts on the Aikatsu! series. I've stumbled across one, Joeker Straight Flush (which has nothing to do with card games as far as I can tell) 
who does have an imported Japanese 3DS and adores Aikatsu! I am getting in touch with them to see if I can a) have tips on the parts of games I struggle with & b) fangirl over Aikatsu with someone who speaks English. 

I've got heaps to say already, with some useful game tips as well as how to access and buy from the Japanese Nintendo eshop, but for now I'll show you the games I've got and extremely condensed initial first reactions. I got my Japanese 3DS from Amazon UK, and found loads of bargain games on Ebay UK too.

Aiktasu 3DS games
There are a total of 4 games, which I ordered, and these are the ones that have arrived so far. Both are in Japanese, use the card system in the arcade game too. 

Aikatsu! 365 Idol Days 
3rd game to be released, 
2nd game I played, 
Dance rhythm game
In a nutshell you create your own character and get to train as an idol alongside all the main characters in Aikatsu! series. It's super fun, was the 2nd game I played, and currently doesn't quite have full marks since I'm struggling with 2 types of audition. More on that soon! 

Aikatsu! My No. 1 Stage 
4th game to be released, 
1st game I played. 
Dance Rhythm Game
Absolutely amazing! No deadlines like Aikatsu! 365 Idol Days, you can level up loads without playing the main story, you can download lots of songs for free play, you can combie outfits, team up with the main Aikatsu! characters for auditions (once you've become friends with them) - this  is living the the Aikatsu! dream! Both gam

Animal Crossing 3DS games
Animal Crossing New Leaf 
Japanese version
Newest AC game 
2nd AC game I've played 
Life simulation/slice of life game
I have played previous versions so know what it's about. However, so much more has been added to it! You can play with friends which is hilarious, do all the usual fruit picking/fishing/shaking trees and hitting rocks for money. It helps knowing the main actions in the game, because there's a fair amount of text and a lot of words I don't know, but use my Japanese dictionary when I need to (sometimes just ignore what people say unless I have to do something!) 

Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer
Japanese version
Newest AC game (joint with ACNL)
3rd AC game I've played
Life simulation/slice of life game 
This is a new spin-off, focusing on designing rooms/buildings for the villagers. There's a huge amount of Japanese I don't know at the beginning, but I'm getting by slowly (have to be quite alert when I play it, so it hasn't had much game play). However, designing my home in ACNL & previous versions was always my favourite part, so being able to do soley this is amazing! You don't have your own home, it's quite different from ACNL but very cool all the same! 


I'd love to hear if you like this new range of posts, and obviously if you have played the games I chat about please get in touch! 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Nayu's Missing Meme #1





Apologies if you're expecting to see the usual weekly meme today. For life reasons I wasn't able to collate the info in time and give to my friend who puts it together for me. It'll be back here next week!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Guest Blog Post: The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy (Children's, 9 years +)

May 2016, Alma Books, 254 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Alma Books
When the war comes, who will save the animals?

It is late August 1939: Britain is on the brink of war, and preparations are under way to evacuate London’s children to the countryside. When twelve-year-old Tilly and her best friend Rosy find out that they will not be able to take their beloved dog and cat with them – and that, even worse, their pets will, along with countless other animals, be taken to the vet to be put down – they decide to take action. The two girls come up with the idea of hiding them in a derelict hut in the woods and, when other children find out and start bringing their rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, their secret den turns into an emergency zoo.

Nayu's thoughts
This looked an incredible book, but I strongly suspected it would deal with hard hitting issues, and having accidentally learning what happened to animals in the war in Holly Webb's sequel to the original Secret Garden (which is by Frances Hodgson Burnett), Return to the Secret Garden (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)
 and also having dealt with a stray cat who is now where he belongs, I knew Tilly's adventure would be too hard a read for me to cope with. However, because I loved the premise and knew all of you would enjoy hearing about it I got in touch with Miriam to see if she would like to write a guest blog post to chat about her book. On reading it I'm doubly glad I didn't read the book! It sounds incredible so do go check it out! 
 
“This is the children’s war, saving our pets.” by Miriam Halahmy

Add caption
My new novel, The Emergency Zoo, (Alma Books, May 2016) asks the question, ‘When war comes, who will save the animals?’ Britain has a reputation for being a nation of animal lovers and I grew up in a home filled with pets. We always had a dog, as well as tortoises, terrapins, a white rat, a canary in a cage and numerous wild birds with broken wings that my mother nursed back to health and then released. My own children kept rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. I prefer animals to be left to run free and don’t really like zoos or pets kept in cages. I like to watch animals in the wild and get very excited when I see a fox and once two huge badgers by moonlight.

So I was absolutely amazed to find out that at the outbreak of WW2, three quarters of a million pets were put down in the UK. I simply couldn’t believe it and had to read everything I could to confirm this dreadful story. People believed that dogs would go mad in the bombing and bite everyone; there wouldn’t be pet food once rationing started and the government announced that pets would not be allowed in shelters.

If you and your family have to leave home at very short notice, on no account leave your animals in the house or turn them into the street. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is the kindest to have them destroyed.
Ministry of Home Security, 25th August 1939.

This is Trixie (I think it's Miriam's dog...) isn't she gorgeous? Can you imagine having to leave her behind?
Almost immediately I thought, there is a story here. My next thought was, What would the children do? At that time, children’s thoughts and feelings were not really taken into account. Although there was a lot of build up to war, grownups didn’t discuss it very much with children. Plans were made to evacuate 3 million children from the city but some children were not told until the morning they left. Children were left to imagine themselves what it was going to be like when war broke out. Imagine how much harder life was going to be for all those evacuated children after their beloved pets had been put down by the grownups?

I decided that the children would take matters into their own hands. So my main character, Tilly, 12 years and her best friend, Rosy, also 12, take Tilly’s dog, Bonny and Rosy’s cat, Tinkerbell, and hide them away in a den they have been playing in all summer in the woods. Gradually a lot of other children find out about the den and bring their pets too; guinea pigs, rabbits, a grumpy goat and more dogs.

Alec, 15 years, a trainee keeper at London Zoo, brings a baby cobra because all the poisonous animals will be put down.

Tilly, please take Freddy,” said Alec. “I can’t let him die.”
Look like the zoo’s moved to the woods,” said Sidney.
Tilly exchanged looks with Rosy, who gave her a firm nod. Tilly puffed her cheeks out, and then, folding her arms, she said, “Well, I suppose we’re the emergency zoo.”

Nayu: I have to say here I would have been glad to have the cobra put down as I have a snake phobia. However, I understand why Alec wanted to save Freddy. (Who on earth names a snake such a nice name? I mean really! They are all just SNAKE!!!! to me! 
 
Tilly has many problems to solve in the few days they have before they are evacuated into the countryside. All the pets have to be kept safe, warm and well fed. They have to find someone to take care of the emergency zoo once they leave and then Rosy is told she will not be sent away and so the two best friends are faced with having to separate. Tilly is determined to save the zoo and to be evacuated with Rosy but as time runs out, how can she solve all her problems?

Lotte, 16 years, looking after her little brother, after they arrive on the Kindertransport escaping certain death in Germany, arrives one day on Tilly’s doorstep with her brother’s dog. His foster parents want to put the dog down and Tilly agrees to take the pet into the emergency zoo.
Thank you Tilly. You are good kind girl and Papa will reward you when he comes to England.”
No need,” said Tilly. “This is the children’s war, saving our pets.”

One of these adorable kittens is called Marley (again I think it's Miriam's) - I couldn't leave them if I had to!
Although the Zoo is the work of my imagination, children were facing the war too and all the terrible things up ahead, often without their families and without their dear little pets. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them managed to find ways to save their animals.

 
 
Twitter : @miriamhalahmy

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero by Rachel Renee Russell, Nicki Russell & Erin Russell, Children's, 9 years +, 8/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

2nd June 2016, Simon and Schuster, 320 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Book summary
A brand-new series from #1 bestselling Dork Diaries author Rachel Renee Russell! Introducing Max Crumbly, the new Dork on the block...

Max is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been – South Ridge Middle School! He has been home-schooled by his grandmother until now, and he’s begged his parents to finally let him start attending a real school. He’s starting to question that choice, though, with the Doug aka Thug Thurston Problem. As in, Thug keeps stuffing Max in his locker.
 
If only Max could be like the hero in all the comics he likes to read – or the ones he draws – and magically escape the locker and defeat Thug. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys. But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs!

Nayu's Thoughts
I was intrigued as to how Rachel would work a boy themed book, and it's good (more in a bit) but I don't love it as much as Dork Diaries. (The latest one I've read is Dork Diaries: Drama Queen Children's, 9 years +, 9/10E)


That's not just because it's about a boy, as I've read some other books recently which I adores. Maybe it was because it kept a similar style/format with illustrations as Dork Diaries. I missed all of Nicki's exclamation marks. Max had some, but not as many. He didn't have a sidekick friend either – Erin doesn't feature for a lot of the story (the character rather than Rachel's daughter). However, there is a lot of serious danger, as well as the usual humour which comes with Rachel's work. It's that danger which had me hooked, and the cliffhanger ending is absolutely EVIL!!!!! It means I definitely will be reading book 2, that's for sure! 

On to what I love about the book. I love the illustrations which have a unique style which I love thanks to Dork Diaries. I do love the reality feel of Max's adventure, which gets scary rather fast. I love how Brandon from Dork Diaries is worked into Max's life – having a slight crossover for the wellknown series adds a sense of familiarity, even though it's a totally different school. Technology is used well as plot points, there's some ridiculous scenarios for humour, and some heart in mouth moments which I think are greater than similar plot points in Dork Diaries. Please be careful if you eat or drink while reading this book, there's one part where you may be put off your food. I thankfully wasn't eating at the time of the part where poor Max suffers. Overall it's a great read, and I can see potential for all readers to enjoy it for different reasons. 

Find out more on Rachel's dedicated Dork Diaries website


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Blog Tour Review + Guest Blog Post: Help! I'm An Alien by Jo Franklin, Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

 16th June 2016, Troika Books, 176 pages, Review copy 

Summary from Troika Books
‘I have nothing in common with my family!’

Daniel Kendall is different—different to the other Kendalls anyway.  After all, he’s the only one with brown hair and brown eyes and what’s more, he’s taller than his family, his friends and probably everyone else in the entire world.

Big sister Jessie has made it clear just how different Daniel is, by explaining that he is in fact, an alien, kindly adopted by her parents. Confused, Daniel turns to his best friends, Eddie and Gordon the Geek, for help. Together perhaps they can work out where he really belongs.

 
Nayu's thoughts
I think I understamd why Daniel thoght he was an alien; he was feeling so different to his family, and his sister stated he wasn't human with such conviction he believed her. He found differences between his family and himself that proved he was different. I was pleased his unique friends whose characteristics made me smile and grimace in equal measure, yet they pull out all the stops to help Daniel get to his true home. 

I was happily shocked at how far the cyrogenic experiment went, and loved it as part of the plot. His mother soon forgets she didn't want Freddo or Gordon around after that incident, which is good (sort of) for Daniel.. It's clear that Freddo's family isn't on the right side of the law, but his heart is in the right place and he helps Daniel every step of the crazy plan, just like Gordon who is a kind geek who adores new shiny toys whatever the legality of their origin. 

I was surprised at how many times I nearly cried from the sweet gestures that Daniel receives. The story gets scary when a communication venture goes rather wrong, providing a good message not to give out your address to anyone in any language. I loved the random moods genertator moments for Daniel's sister Jessie, because she is definitely a tempermental teen with attitude. Even little Tommie is useful, as well as adding a cute factor and raising the stakes at the dramatic finale. Only I hope it's not the end as I want more adventures from this crazy boy trio! Just maybe not involving ice cubes or a wendy house...

Find out more on Jo's website, and read more about the series in her guest post below!

Suggested read
Another alien themed series you'll enjoy is the Moonbaby series by Maudie Smith including the tissue needing finale Opal Moonbaby Forever by Maudie Smith (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E, semi-short 'n' sweet review)


Guest Blog Post by Jo Franklin
Meet Jo!

Help I'm an Alien! Ten year old Daniel feels such a misfit that when his incredibly-annoying-elder-sister tells him he's an alien, he believes her. With the help of his two friends Freddo and Gordon the Geek, Daniel tries to return to his home planet. But things don't go to plan and suddenly Dan has to decide whether he is an alien or a human after all.

Jo Franklin says
The biggest driver for me writing Help I'm in Alien was that other funny books aimed at boys seemed to be a string of gags with no narrative thread.  I think a strong story is essential because children are being tempted away from reading  by instant-hit video games and sound-bite YouTube videos. A great story makes the reader want to turn the page.

As well as being passionate about reading and writing for, about and with children, I am also a stationary addict. Many authors are! We are willing to write on the back of an envelope if we have to, but we’d prefer to use our Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebooks and our italic nib Lamy pens to craft our words. Well I would anyway!

I set up a stationary review website with a friend called www.paperspenspoets.co.uk with a special emphasis on authors and how they obsess about the stationery they use every day.

My stationery taste isn’t just aesthetic. Stationery also has to be practical. My favourite gadget is this stapleless stapler which is perfect for clipping my chapters together. 
 I also love this pencil case which is small enough  to fit into my handbag but also has a few hidden pockets for spare ink cartridges and paperclips. Another great feature is that it converts into a pen stand. I use both these items every day to write.
  

Help I’m an Alien  is the first book in the series published by Troika Books. Help I’m a Genius and Help I’m a Detective will be coming soon. Meanwhile, I'm writing something new. It’s top-secret but here's a clue. Woof.

You can find out more about Jo at www.jofranklinauthor.co.uk and @jofranklin2 on Twitter and Instagram