Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tooth and Nail, Fur and Scale by Anupam Arunachalam

I clicked on this book because of the cover and I decided to borrow it because of the blurb. From the blurb, I was under the impression that this book was going to introduce creatures from Indian myths. Since I don't know much about Indian myth and legends, I was super excited to learn more.

Well, I was a little mistaken. Sure, there were quick introductions to the creatures, but this is mainly a short story anthology featuring Indian mythological creatures. Which is just as interesting as a reference book (ok maybe more).

What I really liked about all these stories is that they were set in India with Indian characters. I know it sounds obvious but for some reason, a lot of stories with Japanese mythology tend to star white people (or perhaps those just stick in my mind because I don't like them). So I appreciated that these creatures were shown in the country, culture, and tradition that they actually belonged too.

I liked all the stories but my favourites were:

Last Words, which stars the Crocotta and has courtly intrigue and betrayal in it.

Guardian of the Font, which was mostly cute and a little sad story about how mythological creatures have to adapt to modern times. (Another story, The Great Understanding, also deals with this theme and I enjoyed it a lot too)

Safe Haven, about deadly ants and had a very smart girl as the heroine.

The Writing on the Wall, about a very unique witch and how one boy learns to use her curse against her - this character probably grew up to become a lawyer.

There are a total of 15 stories in this book and you should read all of them. It's available via the NLB ereads site (or it will be once I return it) and I would recommend everyone who enjoys myths and legends to read this.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Disney Manga: Tangled by Shiori Kanaki

You all should know that I'm a huge Disney fan. I mean, it's what I watched growing up and I still love the movies. And of course I loved Tangled (listening to the Chinese version of I See the Light as I write this review). So when I saw this manga up for review on NetGalley, I immediately requested it.

The manga is pretty much what you expect. The story is very faithful to the movie, so if you've watched the movie, you know what's going to happen (and if you haven't watched the movie, then what have you been doing??)

The only thing that I found a bit off were the bits that featured songs. And that part where Rapunzel is struggling with her feelings after leaving the castle. The scenes work great in the movie, but they're a bit awkward in manga form.

And as for whether you'd like this manga version, I think most of it depends on what you think of the style. It's pretty much like what you see on the cover, but here's a screenshot:

It's pretty close to the Disney original, but the eyes are a bit bigger and the features are softer. I think it looks pretty nice on Rapunzel, but it looks a bit off on Flynn/Eugene.

There's not much that's new here, so it's really for the super fans rather than people looking to see what Rapunzel is all about (again, what have you been doing?). I would recommend this for the die hard fans who love manga.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Some Photos from Okinawa

As you may know, I've been on a holiday in Okinawa. While I'm still going through the photos that I took using my camera, I thought I'd share a few photos that I grabbed with my phone (yes, I definitely took too many photos):

Manzamo Cape

Taking a break at a cafe - The photo looks odd because the food was originally very dark and this was my best attempt to lighten it.

My sis and I at the beach.

Photo of said beach - I am in love with the beaches at Okinawa! The water is so clear!

One of the whale sharks at Churaumi aquarium - The aquarium was really cool and it's definitely a must-visit if you're ever in Okinawa! It is a little crowded though.

This photo was taken at Shuri Castle - also another must-visit spot. Do try the tea set (310 yen for sanpin tea + 4 types of sweets!)

At the entrance of Gyokusendo caves. It's part of a larger attraction called Okinawa World so if you ever want to explore caves, experience Okinawan culture and see some snakes, this is the place to go (we did not go see the snakes because I am not a fan).

My sister and I in Okinawan kimonos! We got this taken at Okinawa world as well!

I'll be blogging about the trip in detail at my other blog once the photos are ready, so feel free to check it out.

I also got quite a bit of reading done on the trip, so the reviews will be appearing here soon!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

I'm not sure why but the book A Monster Calls keeps popping up and it sounds really interesting. But when I search for the book, I found out it was started by Siobhan Dowd and finished posthumously by another writer. And with the weird way my brain works, I figured that I needed to read a book by her before moving on to A Monster Calls.

Bog Child (which was also published posthumously, but finished before her death) is a historical novel set in Ireland. While Fergus is out with his 'uncle' Tally, he comes across a body in a bog. Soon, it's discovered that this is not a murder but an archeology and Fergus starts to dream of the bog child while navigating the exams which are an escape route, his brother on a hunger strike in prison, and falling in love.

On the whole, Bog Child is a quiet novel. There aren't a lot of explosive action scenes (although he is forced into doing something he doesn't want to), and it feels more like the journey of an 18 year old as he tries to make sense of the chaotic and confusing world around him.

Maybe quiet is the wrong word. I mean to say that despite the fact that the IRA and murdered bog children are involved, this is not a thriller.

And I'm guessing that this is also supposed to be an exploration of a complex issue, but I finished the book not liking the IRA. This was mainly because:

1. I find it incredibly selfish for Fergus' brother to cause his mom and sisters so much pain just because he doesn't get special status as a prisoner. I understand that I'm probably missing the picture but the way the book was written, I wasn't convinced that they needed this special status (perhaps there was an assumption that the reader had the requisite knowledge which I don't have).

2. Owain, the 'other side', was basically a normal dude (which I guess is what Fergus was supposed to realise) and I didn't really see any villains from his sides.

3. The ones making Fergus do things that went against his will identified with the IRA. I suppose it's more an indictment of how people will use any means to get to an end, but I can't say the book made me sympathetic towards the IRA, despite all the talk about needing a free Ireland.

The Bog Child is a character-driven novel and I really like how the character of Fergus was developed. I really liked the amount of empathy that he had for others and that the lengths that he was willing to go for his family.

All in all, this is a very beautifully novel that manages to capture how it feels to navigate a world that is falling to bits around you.