Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Five of My Favourite Manga Series


For the first time in forever, we're linking up with the guys over at The Broke and the Bookish to take part in Top Ten Tuesday. This week, it's all about images, everything from picture books to graphic novels, so, naturally, we're going with manga. 

1. +Anima by Natsumi Mukai

More people need to read this, because it's absolutely adorable. It's about four kids - Cooro, Husky, Senri, and Nana - who each have the ability to transform into one specific animal. It's about family and belonging, and it has enough twists and action to keep you on your toes. I read this ages ago, but it's still one of my favourites.

2. Black Cat by Kentaro Yabuki

 Not so long ago, Train Heartnet was Chrono Number XIII, the Black Cat.

...Not that you'd know it from how he acts.

Now, Train's a sweeper (basically a bounty hunter), working with Sven and Eve, but his past is never too far behind him...

3. School Judgement by Nobuaki Enoki and Takeshi Obata

Imagine the Ace Attorney games, but set in an elementary school.
It only has four volumes, but it's quirky and it gets surprisingly dark towards the end. 

4. Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka

Calling all retelling readers! Set in a vast fantasy world, Magi draws from 1000 Arabian Nights for many character and plot elements.

Aladdin is a Magi, responsible for choosing a King. He and his two friends, Alibaba and Morgiana, spend most of their time getting inadvertedly caught up in political feuding. It is not (usually) their fault.

5. Noragami by Adachitoka

Yato is a god. I mean, he doesn't have a shrine, and his shinki just quit on him, but what do those things matter? He's still a god. Totally. Still. A. God. 

...A god doing odd jobs for pittance.

Recommend me some manga series! Do you have a favourite? Have you read any of mine? Ooh! And don't forget to link me to your TTT post!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different (Instructions For Flight by Kate I. Foley)


(Full disclosure: I recieved a free copy of Instructions for Flight. This has in no way affected my review.)

Today's review is a little different. Instructions For Flight is not a novel or a film, it's a poetry anthology. 

There's a bit of everything in here. Poems that are less than five lines long. Poems that tackle complex social issues. Poems that deal with self-confidence. To cover all of it in this review would be to write the equivilant of a novella, so instead I'm just going to focus on a couple of my favourites.

I enjoyed To Beautiful Disasters because of the pacing. The short, snappy lines are peppered with commas, forcing you to pause.

I liked the way that Stage Fright recreated that feeling of trepidation. The line length varies, and enjambment is used to allow the narrator to babble on for three lines at a time at points as they attempt to calm their shredded nerves. At other points, there are frequent full stops. Commas. Question marks. As they. Control. Their breathing. 

The eponymous poem, Instructions For Flight, is the longest in the anthology. It seems to be about stepping into the future. There's a lot of beautiful imagery in here, the 'milky way ice cream' in stanza one, that perfectly captures a child's wonder. I loved the fear in stanza four, but I also enjoyed the success in stanza six. Like flying, this poem soars between the highs and lows of life.

Overall, I really enjoyed the poetry in this anthology. I like dramatic metaphors, beautiful imagery, and good pacing, and there was plenty of all three.  

Instructions For Flight will be available to purchase from the 31st of January. In the meantime, you can find the author's blog here.

Have you read any poetry recently? 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

5 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Diary

I've been keeping a daily diary for six years now. Before you start, it seems daunting. How can you possibly have something of interest to say every day? I'd tried it a couple of times before, but, after a couple of days, I always forgot to write in it. When I finally settled into the habit, I started small. I bought a diary with half a page per day, and big gaps between the lines. Now, I have a full page per day, but I don't necessarily have to fill it. 

There are lots of reasons why keeping a diary is a good life choice, here are just five of them.

1. You Can Talk About Anything

Nobody is ever going to see your diary. It's 100% private. A place where you can be entirely yourself. The chances of even your future self flicking back through are low. Diaries are for writing what's in the moment. What matters now. It doesn't have to be interesting to anyone but you. You can write something intensely emotional one day, and babble on about your favourite TV show the next. 

2. Keep On Top of Your Goals

If there's something you want to achieve by a certain date, keeping a diary is an easy way to keep track of your progress. You can note it down daily, weekly, monthly...whatever works best for you. However you do it, it's always hugely motivational when you flick back through and see how far you've come.

3. See How Your Ideas Evolve

Some days, I note down how I've decided to alter characters and plot points in my stories. This means that, if I choose to flick back, I can pinpoint the exact point at which I changed a name or revamped a character's entire backstory. More importantly, I can see why. 
4. It's an Emotional Outlet

Problems often seem smaller once you've put them down on paper. Sometimes, writing them down can even help you find the solution. Writing down your problems can also show you why you feel the way you do about what's happening in your life. Negative emotions, like anger, often tend to dissipate once you've written them down, because you've essentially released them. You haven't shouted, you haven't broken anything, but you've still expressed it. It's gone.

5. There are No Rules

Skip a day. Fill a page with bad doodles. Write Friday's entry at 3am on Saturday morning. It's your diary. 

Keeping a diary is definitely a worthwhile activity, and there's no harm in trying it for a month or so and stopping if it isn't for you. If nothing else, you'll get a pretty notebook out of it.

Do you keep a diary?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Which Shakespeare Play You Should Suffer Through Based On Your Favourite YA Book

Pro tip: Don't read Shakespeare, watch it. It's easier to make sense of when you can see what's happening, and you get an ice cream break in the middle. 

Pro tip 2: If you do have to read it, read a synopsis first. At least that way you'll at least have a vague idea of what's actually going on.

Pro tip 3: Do not read Hamlet in a night. Just don't.

Shakespeare plays are full of love, pain, and death.

(Often in that order.)

YA books are also full of love, pain, and death.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

This is clearly a match made in heaven, so, without further ado, here are the Shakespeare plays you should read based on your favourite YA novels.

Note: These plays have been around for over 400 years, so themes, attitudes, and events might make some people uncomfortable. I'm thinking specifically of Titus Andronicus here. Also, since they've been around for so long, I'm not sweating the spoilers. 

If You Liked The Hunger Games or Half Bad Trilogies, You Might Like...



People die horribly. That's it. That's the summary. 

If You Liked The Catcher in the Rye, You Might Like...



If you liked The Catcher of the Rye then, first of all, I'm judging you -

(Correction. We're judging you.)

- but here's another story about a guy who really doesn't know what he's doing in regards to...well. Anything.

If You Liked The Gospel of Loki, You Might Like...



(Objection! The Gospel of Loki isn't YA.)

It's the prequel of a YA series. Overruled.
Macbeth should have a subtitle. Something like 'From Hero to Villain', or 'The Hero's Fall'.

If You Liked Any of Maggie Stiefvater's Books, You Might Like...



I haven't actually read this one, but I know it involves a magical forest, fairies, and a very very complicated love polygon. 

Have you suffered through any Shakespeare plays? 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

5 Things I learnt About Blogging in 2016

Happy new year, everyone! Welcome to 2017! 

I thought I'd use my first post of the year to look back at last year. It was my first full year of blogging and, look, I'm still here! 


Why thank you, Ivy, and may I say how unusually positive you're being today. New year's resolution, maybe?

(Welcome to 2017, year of doubt and uncertainty...)

...And there she is.  

So, without further ado, here are five things I learnt about blogging in 2016.

1. You Don't Have to Stick to Your Schedule

Mainly because you can't. Sometimes, life gets in the way, and life has to come first. It's good to aim for a certain number of posts a week, or to plan to post on specific days, but there's no need to beat yourself up over failing. At the end of the day, we're blogging for us. If posting three times a week isn't possible this month, because of school, work, family, or even just blogger burnout, then accept that. Don't worry about it.

(Even if your numbers start to fall, commenting around will get them back up in no time.)

2. Announce Things Early

If you're running a feature or an event - for example, I ran Norse Mythology Week last January - announce it early. Three days just isn't enough. If you want to drum up a decent amount of interest, you're going to need at least a week, maybe longer.

(She says this, but I'm not convinced she's actually learnt it.)

For the record, if you want to take part in our 2017 Reading Challenge, Ivyclad Bingo, you can sign up at any time. (Hint. Hint.)

3. Contact Me Pages Exist for a Reason

If your primary source of contact with your readers is Goodreads, it might be a good idea to actually check your messages from time to time


4. If a Post is Long, Split it into Two

Or, in the case of my A Brief Guide to Gothic Tropes trilogy, three. More posts on the same topic keeps blogger burnout at bay, and a good series keeps readers coming back. 

5. You're Never Going to Finish All Those Drafts

And you're never going to delete them either.

What did you learn about blogging in 2016?