Monday, 21 January 2019

Hattie's Magic Show: Hat Tricks by Satoshi Kitamura (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

 7th February 2019, Scallywag Press, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from Scallywag Press
Hattie conjures an amazing succession of animals out of her hat, and for a grand finale produces a wonderful habitat where they can all live!

Nayu's thoughts
I love bunnies, so naturally I wanted to see what magic Hattie would come up with. Before I read the book I had to smile: I'd gone to the library and borrowed another one of Satoshi's books, Comic Adventures of Boots who is a cat and so funny! So I knew I'd love Hattie's story. 
A must read for all cat lovers and owners
Hattie pulls many things out of her hat, most I could predict what they were from the top of their heads which peeked out of the hat, however the end was something I couldn't predict or tell what it was! I hadn't actually read the book's summary, I wanted to review it solely because of the cute cover. It was such a beautiful ending, one I've not seen in similar stories. Satoshi's illustration style is a fun one, with bright colours, and there's great wit in the story itself. Pictures really are worth over a thousand words! Hattie seems so proud of her magic abilities, which she should be because squeezing all those creatures into the hat is magic - especially when one gets stuck! I'm looking forward to seeing where her magical career next takes her!

Suggested read

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Nayu's Gaming Time #22 Asterix and Obelix XXL2

November 2018, Microids, Nintendo Switch & other consoles, Rental copy,

Brief summary by Nayu
Getafix the druid seems to become a traitor and be working with the Romans, so Obelix (in blue stripes) Asterix, and little Dogmatix set off to help free him from Las Vagum.

Nayu's thoughts
I feel kind of bad writing this review. I absolutely love the Asterix and Obelix books which I'm slowly rereading. There's a lot of great game play in this game, Obelix's infamous grumpy moods are captured perfectly, there's some magic potion time for Asterix, Dogmatix can attack the enemies in his own unique way. There are fun nods to other games like the Yoshi egg coloured menhir (giant rock),
Yoshi is a Nintendo dino who lays green spotted eggs

 and also to other Nintendo games like Tetris: 
Those tetris doors can be blasted with a bomb!
. I had a blast swimming as Obelix, who is my favourite character. Once I got the hang of it I liked fighting, swinging Romans around and jumping on them until they get stunned. The boar powerups made me smile every time I ate them. The puzzles weren't too complicated, and were fun to figure out.

And yet after a few hours I just didn't want to play any more. I think I prefer them as a comic rather than a video game. Which sounds sad to me, as I love the duo. But frequently within the game it was hard to get the camera when I wanted it. Asterix and Obelix swapped around as the main character on their own due to the controls, which was highly annoying. Because I couldn't figure out how to get items from special enemies I know I lost out on stuff that would help me in the game. While I could fight Romans, I couldn't fight them well, and there is such an onslaught of them in numbers that it wasn't all that fun. I have loads of games to play so am not going to spend time on a game I don't enjoy. There's a 3rd game coming out later this year, I think I'll rent it, to see if it's any better, but I suspect I'll come across the same issues again. 

I will be reviewing their books in time so this isn't the only mention of the hilarious duo that I'll be making ^u^ I'd love to know if you've tried the game or read the books!
Bye funny guys!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Babar's Celesteville Games + Le Chateau de Babar by Laurent de Brunhoff (Children's, Picture books, 10E/10E)

 Book summaries 
Le Chateau de Babar (French version)
1998, Hachette, Hardback, Library copy
Can't find a summary online, maybe because it's old? It's a story about King Babar the Elephant and his family 

Babar's Celesteville Games
 August 2011, Abrams Books, Paperback, Library copy
Babar's children have all grown up. He and Celeste take them to the Celesteville Games. All the best animal athletes will be there to compete. Babar's daughter Flora falls in love with a young athlete, Corriander, from the country of Mirza. They decide to marry and all of Celesteville is invited.

Nayu's thoughts 
Recently I'm rereading books I enjoyed when I was younger, because I can, and Barbar is a favourite character I've loved since I was little. I will show them in a later post (I'm on a time limit with blogging today since I want to go get my groceries) but I have a toy of both Celeste and sort of a toy of Babar, he's a pyjama case. That's how much I love it. I've seen both the original TV series and the modern one. I love them both as they are different, yet all capture Barbar and Celeste's nature. I particularly love the children, especially Flora and Isabel. This made reading these two books great fun, in a nostalgic way because the magic of Babar hasn't faded - it was weird seeing Flora grown up! 

The tales were in keeping with those I've read/watched in the past, nice and sweet, positive tales about communities. I'm fairly sure the French one is in English: it's nice for me to read it in French because that's the original language of the stories, so there's no mistaking what Laurent wanted to convey. 

The only reason they don't make the perfect grade is because well, the Celesteville Games book ended oddly! I couldn't believe that they just put one sentence like that. It makes sense, but seemed abrupt, and wasn't what I wanted at all. It's not a bad ending, just not for me. I've seen online that some people aren't happy with the whole story: I actually enjoyed it, and felt it showed that being different is fine. Having seen both old and new Barbar films I think that helped make it feel like Babar to me.

Suggested read

Friday, 18 January 2019

Nayu's Gaming Time #21 Child of Light 9/10E

It is on other consoles too. 
Made by Ubisoft, 2014 original release, I played for 15-20 hours according to my Switch log. 
I only heard about Child of Light in 2018 because it came out on the Switch, a console I now have and keep a close eye on games that come out. At first I dismissed the game because it looked quite dark and not my kind of graphic style. That still is a bit true, for the first few chapters of the game I played only in short bursts, with lots of cuter games inbetween. Something happened the other week and I felt like playing more - the story then hooked me in. 
This is the final puzzle that stumped me.

There are plenty of places which will tell you how the game play is (kind of cool!). I liked finding the treasure chests, and solving the mostly simple puzzles using a novel system of shadows and light to unlock locked doors. There's still a few doors that I haven't figured out how to unlock post game. Speaking of unlocking, I forgot until I finished it that Aurora had a variety of outfits to change into: they are absolutely gorgeous! I'm not putting them here, go discover them for yourself!
Child Aurora finding the sword (from my game play)

Teen Aurora looking gorgeous!

I liked how her little spirit Ignatius (sp?) could help heal her in battle. I loved when she was in child form, with an overbig crown and a sword she could barely lift. Small spoiler: events happen and she grows into a teen: she matures, becomes more graceful, although I didn't like how her skirt was no longer free flowing. I loved her in battle poses because they remind me so much of one of my favourite anime, Aikatsu, and one of my favourite character's special moves: 
Mizuki's Double Moon Jewel special appeal

Mizuki's moon appeal, can't remember the name.

I know a fair amount of people didn't like how she was 3D and the world was 2D. I loved the difference, it was fun to play at her flying around because she reminded me so much of Bloom from Winx Club that I'd play the game, humming the various theme songs like Bloomix (yes Bloom's power helps her friends out in a later season)
Mess with Bloom at your peril! This is season 4 Believix form.

The song is so you know what I was humming. The game's soundtrack is good, a little too gloomy at times for me, but certainly atmospheric. 

Apart from Aurora, Ignatius, and Finn, I found quite a lot of the characters creepy looking. However I had to look past that because they cared in their own way (or hated Aurora, depending on who they were), and I used the blue jester a lot. Once I learned the spell to protect users from being interrupted when spell casting, I'd use that, followed by a shield and haste.
Ding, dong, the witch is dead! Me with protection spells around me. Sadly some enemies could produce them too!
  I mostly focused on Aurora as the main attacker. Any item I got that could boost stats I automatically gave to the princess. Those of you on Twitter know I posted quite a few tweets while playing the game. Including the fact that the last few puzzles were so hard I looked up how to do it online. I never would have guessed the correct order!  

As for the story - it's complicated! At it's simplest it's good versus evil. I was intrigued to play it because I'd heard it talks about depression. I've played Meh a game that handles depression with gorgeous illustrations, so it felt only natural I checked Aurora's tale out. I thought it might be a bit like Sleeping Beauty, given Aurora's name, but it wasn't that much. I was so confused by the end it took looking through screen shots of the start and end of the game, reading a few reviews and several posts on gaming forums to begin to get the whole story straight. I didn't like the end. I thought it would be happier. I was extremely disappointed by one sad part, so much so I pretend that the scenario was how I imagined it. 
This in game moment is funny, and shows what it looks like when the characters talk to each other. The woman isn't Aurora...
Will I play Child of Light again? Yes. Not for a while, as many other games are calling my name, but I did enjoy, I want to try and find all the item boxes, and I think I've a memory or two to collect (they are poems). I managed to complete all the quests, with only a tiny bit of internet help. I liked how the entire game was a huge poem with characters speaking in verse. It was quirky, and not annoying despite me not being fond of poetry. There isn't a game like it that I can recommend, it's definitely in a league of it's own for now.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yeti! by Steven Butler and Steven Lenton (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E)

October 2018, Simon and Schuster, 240 pages, 7 years +,  Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Simon and Schuster 
Having just saved the hotel from a goblin prince, Frankie Banister and the guests are looking forward to enjoying themselves and celebrating the summer holiday of Trogmanay! But when a snow storm blows in (complete with Yeti family), and a number of mysterious guests arrive, something sinister seems to be taking over the hotel and celebrating is the last thing on anyone’s mind…

Nayu's thoughts 
It took me longer than expected to read this because I actually have a limit on how much weird fiction I can read at a time. I know I'm odd, but weird means out of the ordinary, which this book definitely is. Seeing strange monsters and disgusting food ingredients grosses me out out, so this book was initially read in little chunks until I finished it this weekend. I didn't look too closely at the food pictures! The illustrations are well done, just not quite my cup of tea for food ones. 

I truly loved this book aside from the few gross parts. It's the first book I've read of the series, despite it being the second written. I didn't feel that I missed out on any inside jokes or info, although I hope to read book 1 one day because I'm in love with the yetis! I'm guessing they don't have a strange plural spelling, I hope note as I wouldn't want to insult them, not with how they reacted to one mischievous creature.  They seem so friendly, completely oblivious that the  manner in which they travel inconveniences other magical and non magical creatures, which in turned changed the hotel in all aspects. I want to sink my finger into their long fur. The daughter, Zingri, has an adorable hair style and a brilliant aim. 

The nomad gave me the creeps and reminded me of a Zelda character (FYI I don't like Zelda games, apart from Windwaker. They are scary games!) with a mask who I can't recall the name so can't show you a picture. Glad to know my feelings were well merited! Wanted to punch it's lights out for what it did, but the end was extremely satisfactory. I did want to read some of the awful reviews that Frankie's parents' wrote to keep humans away from their hotel, maybe that can be put in the next book? Please? I most definitely want to the Yetis to return and create mayhem! Just not with all the hexes that also came with this story. 

Find out more on Steven Butler's website and Steven Lenton's website

Suggested read

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Nayu's Gaming Time #20 Mario Tennis Aces review

This is the first game I got with my game rental subscription through Boomerang: this isn't a sponsored post, just a game review. I feel blessed to have come across this rental service because it is helping me try games I want to try, without wasting money if I don't like them. 

I really wanted to like Mario Tennis Aces. I absolutely adore how cute Peach, Toadette and Rosaline are. They are characters made for me: cute, flying, pink (Rosline's colour suits her) and pretty. They make me smile whenever I played with them, and I didn't want to stop. 
Peach is a pro, except for when I play as her (pic found online)

I even liked the concept of the game: I liked how the different levels varied in how you needed to hit the ball. That's where my joy ended. Mario certainly made me hate him even more when he pretty much told Daisy and Peach that they couldn't go with him because they were more diplomatic than fighters. Seriously? He seriously said that in this day and age of girl power? Grrr! There were other ways to make it only Mario and Toad as the initial players (which I didn't like). 
This is the screen when I lost. I couldn't be mad because I made my opponant Toadette!

I sucked at the game big time. It didn't matter in the non adventure mode, where I could game and focus on just hitting the ball. But the story mode is such an integral aspect of the game. It wants you to do all the special tricks, which you aren't drip fed but told all of them in a row, and my fatigue fuddled brain couldn't take in all of the differences between the balls. Even when I improved a smidge I still wasn't happy. I couldn't face spending hours trying to hit the ball the right way. It's not like Mario Kart where it doesn't matter if you go a bit wrong, you simply keep racing on the track. Hitting a tiny object every single time it appears is harder than it sounds. It simply wasn't enjoyable. 
I fell in love with Rosalina for flying, and her star friends which get used in her special shots (pic found online)

So if I ever won a copy, I would keep it for the fun of playing as my 3 favourite girls. I would buy a copy if it got super cheap (like that'll ever happen, this is a Nintendo game which are notorious for not having price drops that often), otherwise I'll pass. 

This is exactly why I'm enjoying my Boomerang subscription (the link isn't sponsored): I'm able to try games I like the sound of but am not too sure on, that way I don't have to waste a load of money on something I don't like. I wasn't alone with finding Mario Tennis Aces tricky - found someone on Twitter who had similar issues. I am going to try all the other Mario sports games, to see if I like them. I love the girls, and want to play as them (they don't always wear their dresses in Mario Kart, which I do have), just in a game I enjoy all of it. 
I'm sorry I'm not continuing just yet with your awesomeness Toadette! (Pic found online)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Aphrodite's Tears by Hannah Fielding (Romance, 9/10E)

 January 2018, London Wall Publishing, 272 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Book summary
In ancient Greece, one of the twelve labours of Hercules was to bring back a golden apple from the Garden of Hesperides. To archaeologist Oriel Anderson, joining a team of Greek divers on the island of Helios seems like the golden apple of her dreams.Yet the dream becomes a nightmare when she meets the devilish owner of the island, Damian Theodorakis. In shocked recognition, she is flooded with the memory of a romantic night in a stranger s arms, six summers ago. A very different man stands before her now, and Oriel senses that the sardonic Greek autocrat is hell-bent on playing a cat and mouse game with her. 

As they cross swords and passions mount, Oriel is aware that malevolent eyes watch her from the shadows. Dark rumours are whispered about the Theodorakis family. What dangers lie in Helios: a bewitching land where ancient rituals are still enacted to appease the gods, young men risk their lives in the treacherous depths of the Ionian Sea, and the volatile earth can erupt at any moment? Will Oriel find the hidden treasures she seeks? Or will Damian s tragic past catch up with them, threatening to engulf them both?

Nayu's thoughts
Disclaimer: this would be a 10E/10E book, but for a few incidents with birds in cages, however not for the reason you may think. There are spoilers in my reason, so if you don't want extremely minor spoilers then ignore the next paragraph. 

I have two zebra finches of my own, in a cage in my room. My view is better in a large cage than a cramped one in a pet shop (although I go to a well run pet shop, but cages are still too small for my liking). The first incident is about noise from a bird at night: unless the cage was uncovered, birds tend not to burst into song at the end of the night. The second incident freaked me out so much I nearly stopped reading what was a brilliant story. It took me out of the story, and I felt dreadful for the poor things, which was nothing to do with Oriel, who was horrified for different reasons. Mine was of bird welfare and I pray that never happens in real life, as it is too awful for words. 

Back to the story: this book caught my interest because my degree involved Ancient Greece, both the history and the language. Give me a pot fragment and I'm happy as Winnie-the-Pooh is content when with a full honey pot, or several. Oriel's life didn't disappoint me. She clearly loves her job, and is good at what she does. She understandably struggles with the nasty goings on during her visit (if you think a character is evil, just wait until later in the book where their nasty streak gets horrendous), and while she thinks she stays for the historical importance of what she is discovering, she does also like her boss. That was a mostly sweet romance, if a bit infuriating when they were both being pigheaded about things. His past was interesting, but not what I was most eager to read about (I often don't read romance for the romance).

But oh the history! I've always imagined being an explorer like Lara Croft (I played some of the early games and love the films (the ones with Angelina Jolie, I kind of refuse to watch the others because to me she is Lara Croft), so reading about Oriel's adventures was blissful. I won't spoil a major part of the story but what she finds is breathtaking, and I fully understood the importance of what was found, and liked experiencing what it must be like to make such a find as she does. That is why I didn't quit reading the book over the bird incident: I wanted to know how her story ended and if the heritage site stays safe. Plus I'd stumbled across the natural disaster part of the story and was intrigued by how that went. 

It is safe to assume I will be rereading this, and skipping the parts I don't like, now I know where they are.  For me those were the best parts: the intrigue was good too, because I never knew what was going to happen next and wondered how far the perpetrator would take the 'pranks'. There were quite a few surprising story twists that I didn't see coming, which I'm looking forward to watching out for the hints on the next read. 

Be sure to check out Hannah's website for more info! 

Suggested read
My book recommendation today is for a non-fiction book concerned with Greece's past: Stories from Herodotus by Lorna Oakes (Non-Fiction, 9/10E)