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Fun Friday

Fun Friday Header!

Just a fun little video I made for the Ultimate Star Wars Book!

It has information on characters, creatures, locations, technology, vehicles and more! It even has a forward by Anthony Daniels, or better known as C-3PO. Written by Patricia Barr, Adam Brag, Daniel Wallace and Ryder Windham.

I apologize if the video is blocked in certain countries. It is due to the soundtrack. If I get too many complaints that it is not viewable then I’ll re-upload it with a new non-star wars sound track. (Comment thoughts!)

Update May 21: Video has been re-uploaded and edited so it should be viewable in every country!

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A Day In New York City – Books, Food and More!

Yesterday I went into the city with my mom for the day as she had found a Japanese book store and as I love Japan, the culture and am learning the language in university, we decided to go and check it out and tag on a bunch of other stuff too and it was absolutely an incredible day! It was a day filled with culture and books!

Muji in NYC

Our first stop was Muji(無地良品)which was a Japanese convenience store. It sold everything that someone would need in their house and it was absolutely fantastic! Almost all of the stuff in the store was made in Japan and it was honestly so organized and some of the products there were so useful. They had everything from clothing to bits of food to cooking wear to writing good and more. The store was really well set out, smelt soooo good and I felt like I had actually traveled to Japan while within the store. It had this detached feel about it because it was so calm compared to the hustle and bustle of NYC and it was refreshing and a fantastic experience. I know that I’ll definitely be going back. It’s located right within the New York Times Building.


 

The New York Times Building 620 8th Avenue (40th st.)
New York, NY 10018
Tel 212.382.2300
Store Hours
Mon – Sat 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Next, we headed to the New York main store of Kinokuniya Book Store which was the main reason of our visit and to say that I had a fantastic time would be an understatement. It was amazing!!!

It’s set on three levels, the level you walking in on being a regular book store with a Japanese edge, such as Japanese cook books, books pertaining to Japan and other bits and pieces, but a lot of the books were traditional books you’d find in a book store. But they also had some cool stands too. There were also little bits and pieces such as Japanese toys and little action figures.

One of the book stands

A really good phrase book

Neko Sushi

On the next floor was all the manga and it was actually really cool. I had never seen so much manga in one place except in anime’s and seeing all of this was kinda neat. すごい (awesome)!! I’m not into manga per se but I do appreciate seeing it all and having the experience and it was really awesome to see so many people looking at it and buying it. It did have a feel of being in Japan once again because of the types of people shopping there (a lot of Japanese people, and Asians in general as well) and also there was a small cafe in the corner selling traditional Japanese food like sushi and whatnot.

Lots and lots of manga!

Then when you went to the bottom floor, there were lots of gift things and writing utensils, such as calligraphy sets for writing in Japanese and magazines too on one half.

Good luck Japanese cats
Maneki-neko [招き猫] – Good luck cat
Then the second half of the bottom floor was Japanese books. They were books that were written in Japanese and dedicated just to people who could read Japanese and it was honestly so cool. I could only read a little bit of what were there but was able to get my English-Japanese/Japanese-English Dictionary (which I needed) and I found some fantastic books in the ‘learn Japanese’ section. They even had a teach yourself Japanese book that was manga style, so the book was accompanied by manga drawings. Definitely a fun way to learn the language!

Learn Japanese by Manga

A page from the manga book

 

I absolutely loved this book store and would go back for fun gifts as well as books later on and I do highly recommend checking it out as, while it does have books and is a book store, it is an amazing experience!


1073 Avenue of the America
(bet 40th & 41st St.)
New York, NY 10018
Tel 212.869.1700
Store Hours
Mon-Sat 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Sun 11:00AM – 7:30PM

After that, we were of course hungry, and so it was time to grab a bite to eat. We had previously decided that we were going to go and get ramen, try traditional ramen, and we had to find somewhere that did it. I had done some searching but I figured that we’d find somewhere once in the city as the area we were in had tons of Japanese food places. A lot of them were for sushi, but we found a small Japanese ramen place which had good reviews so we headed over. The place we found was called Tabata 2 (it is the smaller of the two restaurants which are only blocks apart). The outside was so basic that I was questioning whether to actually go in. It had a tiny entrance and it wasn’t that fancy.

Front of Tabata 2

Tabata 2

But we headed in and boy was I happy that we did. My mum and I both got ramen and it was fantastic. The food was incredible, the place was small, but it was so worth it. It had a lively atmosphere, the people who worked there were friendly, and the service was really good as well. My first bowl of traditional ramen was the best!

Tabata ramen!
My bowl of ramen
More ramen!
My mums ramen – the traditional Japanese one

557 8th Ave
New York, NY 10018
Tel 212.290.7691
Hours
11:30am – 11:00pm

After that we headed to the New York Public Library to have a look around. On the way they have something called Library Walk which is a bunch of plaques (if you are walking towards the direct front of the library from one block away) that have book quotes and just general quotes on them with incredible engravings. There are tons of them on both sides of the street and people stop to read them, pausing and taking a moment to reflect.

A plaque from Library WalkAnother plaque from Library Walk

Then, you get to the front of the library, which is extremely grand and beautiful!

New York Public Library

Inside, they had their Christmas tree still up and it was absolutely beautiful. It looked so real (I’m not sure if it was or not) but they had made it also look like it was covered in snow and it was gorgeous!

New York Public Library tree

The main room which we came to visit, the Rose Reading Room, was unfortunately closed for renovations but we walked around and were able to seem some of the incredible art work that makes up the ceilings.

New York Public Library ceiling

In the gift shop, they sold these amazingly cute necklaces (which I would buy as a gift for a book lover) and they were literally little books on a chain and were hand bound! I mean how cool, and creative, is that?!?!

Another view of book necklaces Book necklaces

Then, after that I was dying for a cup of tea because the ramen was kind of salty due to the soy sauce, and so we decided that it was time for tea, which is lots of fun. I found a small tea place around the back of the library, across from Bryant Park, called Maison Kayser. It was a Parisian little cafe and it was absolutely adorable and quaint and I loved it. The food was incredible, the atmosphere was great, and the place was beautiful. The best part is that everything is baked in-house and is all fresh! Which made it all the more yummier.

Maison Kayser in NYC
The bar where drinks were made
Tea!!!
Tea! I had English Breakfast, per usual
Small mousse cake from Maison Kayser
The wonderful and yummy dessert – chocolate of course
Walls in Maison Kayser
Wall decorations with lots of French words – very creative
Looking at entrance to Maison Kayser
Entrance way – so warm, cozy and inviting

8 West 40th Street (at Bryant Park)
New York, NY 10018
Tel 212.354.2300
Hours
Mon-Fri 6:30 am – 7:30 pm
Sat-Sun 8:00 am – 7:30 pm

To sum up, it was a fantastic day of many different cultures (from Japan to America (the library) to Paris as well), lots of yummy food, and of course, the best part, books! I do recommend checking all of these places out if you are in the NYC area any time soon because they are amazing and definitely worth a check out. It wasn’t terribly expensive but still the quality of everything was fantastic. And the best part is, is that it was all quite close to each other and easy to do.

NYC is definitely a place everyone needs to visit. I mean who doesn’t love a place with so many cultures and lots of book places too?!

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Raining Embers (Order and Chaos Book 1) by Jessica Dall

Raining Embers (Order and Chaos Book 1) by Jessica Dall Cover Summary

“Palmer Tash always follows the path of least resistance. He has an unusual disability involving his hearing. But in theocratic Latysia, being different isn’t a good thing, so he conceals his problem.

Brier Chastain’s malady is even more debilitating, and she often must take to her bed for long periods. Her days are spent in meaningless pursuits as she awaits an arranged marriage.

When Palmer and Brier are kidnapped on the same night, they meet and discover that their so-called disabilities are actually budding powers. They are the incarnations of Order and Chaos. With their country on the brink of war, the two must step into their predestined roles and learn to take control of their own destinies.”

From Jessica Dall’s Website

Review

So Jessica Dall contacted me asking me to read her book for her and get a review done as her book is brand-spanking-new and I’m really glad that she did. It was a fantastic book and I am curious as to how the other books in the Order and Chaos series are going to be now. I will start off by saying that it is an e-book which can be purchased from here for $2.99 and was quite worth it in my opinion.

So the story followed two teens and how their abilities were essentially that of order and chaos. My one confusion was ages as I kept viewing the two protagonists more as like 15 year old kids but then they would mention that they were closer to 19 or 20 years old and I kept getting so confused at moments, but that was probably more of a personal thing. I always felt, during the story, that how they reacted to certain situations, was that more of a younger child than of an adult, but that’s not a complaint. More of just a personal feeling while reading.

There was nice character development as well. You got quite attached to the two protagonists, Brier and Palmer and it was nice to see how they developed as characters as well as they developed with each other. This book definitely did have a romance aspect to it, though it was definitely not the main theme. It was just a nice way to make the story interesting and engaging and adding a new dynamic to the story.

My only one complaint about the book was the aspect of Palmer’s hearing. It was stated that he had a hearing issue, only being able to hear one thing at a time if he concentrated on it, but as the story continued to progress, I got the feeling that that issue went away, and I think that was due to the expanding of his abilities which was kind of interesting, but that was my only one complaint/confusion. Where the hearing issue went and why it was significant in the first place. But, once again, that is more of a me complaint as I’m sometimes extremely picky with stories.

The ending of the book was quite good as well. It was fast paced although a lot was crammed into the last 100 pages. It was about 200 pages of set up and then the last 100 pages was a lot of stuff happening in a very short period of time. Now this is a writing style, and a lot of YA books do it, and it’s extremely common, so I’m once again not saying it is bad, but I’ve always been into books where the action scenes are a little more dragged out, or the build up to the action scene doesn’t take place in only about a chapter or so. Although I do know a lot of people who like the fast build ups because instant-gratification is a thing now a days. The quick ending was nice though because you did have quite a few questions towards the end and you got a lot of them answered really fast which is always nice because you can breathe and go ‘Ohhhhhh! I get it now!”.

I also really do love the cover. The mixture of the light blue/teal with the yellow and fire design is a really nice combination, it really caught my attention. It was the first thing that I noticed before I started to read the book and I love that quality about it.

It wasn’t a difficult read at all, only about 280 pages or so and didn’t take me that long to read. Only reason it took me a ‘while’ was because I was busy and had to keep stopping but I was easily able to get through the last 100 page or so in an hour or two, so it wasn’t difficult. It was typical YA writing so it fits perfectly into the genre.

Overall I really did enjoy the book. It was unique, giving Order and Chaos bodies and abilities and making them become part of the world. I’m certainly intrigued as to how this series is going to be taken and would definitely be interested in reading the follow up book(s).

Check out this book and let me know what you think of it as well.

Happy reading!

 

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The Young Elites (A Young Elites Novel) by Marie Lu

The Young Elites book cover Summary

“From the New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series 

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.”

-Qtd. from the Amazon.com

Review

So I’m back for Thanksgiving break and get a little bit of down time. Well…down time between writing research papers, studying and other bits and pieces, but I’ve found time to read! And it’s beautiful. I stopped by my local library, of course, and went to the recommended reading section as I just wanted something that looked good and was recommended and while I was going through the shelf, I picked this book up and my YA librarians voice carried over to me. “I just finished that one and it’s really good!” I didn’t need any more motivation to give it a book. If it’s on the recommended reading shelf and my librarian suggests it, I’m totally down to read it, and boy am I glad that I did. It’s exactly what I wanted!

So this book follows the protagonist and she essentially doesn’t fit into the society because of what she is, a malfetto. Malfettos are creatures that essentially had a sickness when they are younger and now have magical abilities and are marked. The people of the world view them more demonic because they get their abilities, in a way, from the gods. So of course they are naturally terrified of them and the governing people want them gone, but for other reasons. A small group of malfettos, known as The Young Elites want to overthrow the government due to the fact that they are surpassed. They also constantly look out for others who have abilities that are as powerful as theirs and such. That is where the protagonist comes in. She catches the eye of them and is brought in to use her abilities, though they are not exactly what they were expecting. Instead of just being abilities, they draw on emotions that are way stronger than expected, such as hate and fear with a mixture of passion, and some view that as an explosive mixture. Thus, she is unstable and it follows her journey of her time with the group and is, of course, a cliff hanger to lead into the second book, The Rose Society (which I still have to read).

Overall I thought this book was fantastic! It was a fantasy book, more medieval in nature, and that is why I loved it so much. I have always enjoyed books with the supernatural/fantasy element to them and this was perfect because it brought in YA protagonists. I will say that there are some more mature themes in this, such as brothels and hints towards gay relations, so I do recommend it for older YA readers, but other than that it was fantastic.

It was nice how the main characters developed and it kept you on your toes. Not everyone was who you thought they were and you weren’t always able to figure that out, which is nice. Sometimes in books you can see certain things coming and other times not, and this was definitely a ‘you-cannot-totally-see-it-coming’ book. But that was why I loved it! It kept you guessing as to what was going to happen and who was going to try to kill who.

There was also a little bit of romance in the book but nothing that it distracted you from everything going on. It was a nice little side thing going on but it wasn’t to the point that this could be called a romance book by any means thought it was also there enough to keep you interested and wondering what may happen as well.

It wasn’t a huge book, only about 344 pages which is average for a YA book and I read it in a few hours, which is just me. But it is also quite a simple read which is nice as well. The sentence structure wasn’t difficult to follow and it fit perfectly in the modern YA genre.

And that ending! Ugh. Don’t even get me started. I need the next one like ASAP!!!

Honestly, I thought this was a fantastic book and I can’t wait to read the next one! It just came out in October so it’s definitely hot off the press. I’m also excited to read her other series, The Legend Trilogy, the first book which I already have and am ready to start-up as soon as possible!

Happy reading!

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Maleficent (2014) – Movie Review

Starring

Angelina Jolie – Maleficent
Elle Fanning – Aurora
Sharlto Copley – Stefan

Summary

“Explore the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain in this wickedly fun twist on the classic SLEEPING BEAUTY. In an unforgiving mood after a neighboring kingdom threatens her forest, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) places an irrevocable curse on the king’s newborn daughter, the Princess Aurora. but as the child grows, Maleficent finds herself becoming fond of the girl. And as the conflict between the two realms intensifies, Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land. Journey beyond the fairy tale in this soaring adventure that is “visually arresting, brilliantly designed” (Andrew Barker, Variety).”

-From Amazon.com

Review

Honestly, I’m speechless. This movie was absolutely stunning. The visual effects were beautiful, the characters were portrayed amazingly well, and the story of such an evil villain, and showing how she wasn’t necessarily what others saw, was so creative.

In the Sleeping Beauty story, and in the movie, you always disliked Maleficent, and you were supposed to because she was the bad guy, oh, sorry, bad woman. But in this movie, it showed why she was portrayed to be the bad woman and how she changed as she watched Aurora grow and looked after her.

So the story was the first amazing thing about it, how they were able to twist such a well-known story and make you feel for her. But then the other amazing thing was the visual effects. From the moment the movie started, it was magical and the creatures, from fairies to the water creatures, was just stunning.

Some of the creatures were kind of creepy looking, but they were supposed to be. It was all about judging someone by how they looked throughout this entire movie. They judged Maleficent and her friends because they were magical beings and the one Kingdom wanted to destroy them because of it.

Now Angelina Jolie, playing Maleficent was amazing. She played that part SO well. She took on that role and really was just….amazing. I don’t know how else to explain it because she had the personality down pat and was able to get all the subtle things down. Jolie was able to walk around with an air of grace but deadly grace when she went evil.

This, is probably one of my favorite scenes of her portrayal of the character in the movie with the way she looks down and acts all innocent but has this deadly air to her.

So, to me, besides the story, the visual effects were the best thing to me as I’ve always been interested in how they do it and such and it’s amazing how magical they can make a movie nowadays.

All in all, this is a really really good movie. It was PG-13, so it’s not for children, and it really wasn’t, especially with all the violence. For being based on a Disney movie, this really was Hollywoodized (not a word, but I’m making it one now) which is kind of annoying but as a near adult, it didn’t really detract from the movie for me and I still loved it, but if you want your younger kid to watch this, this really isn’t for them because of the nature of what happens. It is quite a dark movie, lighting wise (for parts of it), and dark also in the nature of what happens.

I highly recommend it, even if you don’t really like Disney movies, because I don’t love Disney movies but still absolutely loved this. It take the classical fairy tales and adds a twist to them.

So let me know what you think and enjoy!