Book: Aesop’s Fables (Wordsworth’s Classics)

“Lions regularly team up with asses. There’s a fox somewhere too…”

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Author: Aesop

Genre: Fantasy, Classic, Animals, Age: All

Do you ever think that some stories are familiar, but you can’t pinpoint where you’ve read them before? Reading Aesop’s Fables is like stumbling into that experience over and over again.

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(The Crow and the Pitcher)

Of course, as the book’s introduction is quick to point out, Aesop didn’t really *write* these stories, he merely collected them. This version from Wordsworth contains around 250 short tales, which feature anthropomorphic characters and situations that make them cross paths. Each story is a quick read, taking roughly three minutes to read at most, and I found myself finishing the book in a couple of days, since I was using it for light reading before bedtime.

There’s nothing amazingly complex about the experience,  since each story starts and finishes with few plot-points. For someone used to reading long, epic fantasy books, this was such a refreshing experience and almost a mental cleanse; I could stay with the characters for a few minutes, and then abandon them, and only take the central  message forward.

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News: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix Limited Edition Preorder

“Time to save some pennies for December”


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Release Date: 2nd December 2014

I must have been living under a rock to miss this! For some reason, I started out 2014 eagerly checking for the pre-orders of Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Final Mix Limited Edition (*phew* mouthful…), and when the pre-orders do open, it’s almost like I’d forgotten the game existed.

This is of course the HD update for the original Kingdom Heart 2, and also contains the Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded. I can’t seem to figure out if Re:coded is actually the game or just the cutscenes? Regardless of whatever it is, I know I’ll still end up purchasing this.

Sadly, there’s no mention of an artbook like in the release of Kingdom Hearts 1.5, but for your hard-earned cash you get an *Exclusive Pin*. Yes, the artwork for Kingdom Hearts 1.5 wasn’t brilliant, but at least it made me look forward to getting the package, now it’s a…a… PIN.

Hard to get excited about that.

You can see the Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Limited Edition (PS3) here.

See below for synopsis and trailer:

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Musings: Avoiding Britain’s Got Talent

“Change channels”

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(Dancing for a YES)

I don’t usually publicly announce that I’m boycotting, or avoiding things, because usually I change my mind and have to explain why I reverted. However, in this case, I will explain why I have been avoiding Britain’s Got Talent for the past couple of years, and why after seeing a snatch of it now, I’m glad I don’t keep up with it anymore.

Britain’s Got Talent is a big feature of Saturday evenings, and is watched by millions of people all over the country. Yet, it’s the judges, not the acts, that are putting on the biggest show.

I thought it was about finding an entertaining act for the Queen? Or even, something worth £250,000?! Wasn’t that the point? Surely the judges can get past the their huge egos, of which no-one’s is bigger than Simon Cowell‘s.

When dance group Cartel auditioned in tonight’s show, one of the members was being judges far more harshly based on his looks and age. Jamie, pictured above on the far left, is in his late 20’s, and his teammates are in their teens. Simon see a terrible error in letting an older dancer perform with younger ones.

Does Jamie‘s age affect his performance? Not at all. He is as slick and proficient at dancing as any of those other performers, but was singled out because he is older. Apart from being incredibly rude, this is being ageist. Do I have to watch Simon’s opinions rule over television? Absolutely not, I will change the channel.

Hopefully in the future, there will be an end to over-produced audition-based shows, with egoistic judges, and auditions with sob-stories. My fingers are crossed for a fresh wave of entertainment, on new platforms.

See Cartel’s audition below:

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TV: Star-Crossed – Episode 1 Summary + Review

“Roman, Roman, where for art thou..”

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(“You know, those aliens are pretty good looking….”)

Airing on: Sky

Genre: Romance, Drama, Sci-Fi, Aliens, Age: 13+

Released: 4th April 2014 – onwards

Aliens called Atrians have landed on earth in September 2014, and immediately face hostilities. Emery Whitehall finds a young Atrian boy hiding in her shed, close to where the alien ship has landed. She takes care of the frightened young boy, however the military finds him and shoots him in front of Emery.

Ten years later, and Emery is beginning her first day of high school after spending the last few years in hospital. She and her friend Julia watch as young Atrians are beginning the same school; a program to integrate them into the same society as humans. If this program is successful, it could mean the start of cohabitation by humans and Atrians, but high school is never easy.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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Music: Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek – Album Review

“The Creatures of The Night. Me, Myself and I.”

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Artists: Janet Devlin

Age: 12th November 1994 (age 19)

Genre: Pop, Folk

Released: 3rd July 2014

I’m going through a big change in the music I listen to. Gone are the loud sounds, harsh vocals and lewd lyrics, I’m attracted more and more to soul-searching songs that feel like they explore the depths of the universe itself. There are very, very few artists that I can place within that category, and as such, they are getting a bit overplayed.

Janet Devlin is one of those singers that deserves recognition for having a beautiful voice. There is a rare quality in her young, bit-rough vocals, with it’s Irish lilt, and her album showcases her astonishingly understated vocals perfectly.

I first saw Janet Devlin on X Factor UK 2011, and in her auditions, she brought a charm and innocence to all her performances, and she’s good, very good.

Janet Devlin not only sings, but has co-written all the songs on this album. It adds that extra spark and personality to every line. Hide & Seek (obviously a reference to Imogen Heap, one of Devlin‘s influences) was first released in limited quantities last July (2013), but is set to re-released this summer.

The album explores Pop and Folk genres, and there are some upbeat songs, Wonderful, Working for the Man, that are mainstream pop. They are catchy enough, but sound hideously generic compared to quirky-piano-pop Creatures of the Night.

Walk Away, Who am I to You, Pick Me Up and the titular Hide & Seek, are pleasant songs that are perfect for putting on as background music. They don’t stand out in particular, but the feel is of good, solid, pop music. When was the last time I heard that? Probably not in a decade.

The standout tracks for me are Devlin‘s slower songs. If there is a reason to buy this album, it is for Crown of Thorns, Things We Lost In The Fire, Nothing Left to Hide, and the brilliantly haunting When We Were Young. I have never heard such a young voice sing so expressively, and against quiet accompaniment, and still move me.

There is an untrained quality to Devlin’s voice. A raw power that hasn’t grown into its own, and is so unusual in a world filled with auto-tune or power singers (and shriekers).

Not everyone will “get” her. There is a reason why she managed 5th on the X Factor, and had her album funded by PledgeMusic. However, if you love this type of sound, she is a great artist at the beginning of her career, filled with talent and great potential.

I know I am a fan.

See below for album previews:

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Book: Nicholas Sayre & The Creature in the Case Cover Image

“Of scratching and inkings”

Author: Garth Nix

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Age: YA+

Released: 1st October 2007 (UK version)

Going on a Garth Nix kick, I had a look through this book, which a follow-on story from The Old Kingdom Trilogy (The Abhorsen Trilogy). There are a few nice pictures which relate to the short stories that I haven’t seen online. Garth Nix’s short stories have been published in various fantasy anthologies, but I haven’t come across any of these illustrations, possibly because this is an old children’s edition.

I will try and upload the illustrations as I review the stories. This is the Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case image, which I have already reviewed.
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Credit goes to David Wyatt, who has illustrated the headings of the stories for the Harper Collins Children’s Book’s in Great Britain 2006. Photographs taken by me.

News: Final Fantasy X HD Limited Edition Preorder on Amazon UK

“So close, so close to my hands….”

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Release Date: 21st March 2014

I’m sure a lot of people got this email from Amazon, but for those that didn’t; the Limited Edition of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD is still available for preorder. This is actually around the £30 mark, which was the same as the LE pre-orders taken before.

See the Pre-Order page here.

The game is, of course, going to sell bucket-loads, and be the saviour of Square Enix’s review ratings, after the travesty of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. I can’t wait to get my hands on my own copy, when the game comes out on 21st March, which at this point is less than a week away.

You get limited edition packaging, an artbook disc-case, and new models of Tidus and Yuna to drool over, but the big satisfaction is in replaying an old favourite. They don’t make games like this anymore.

Update: Pre-orders are now closed.

Anime: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – Episode 1 Summary + Review

“There’s a deity in my local shrine…”

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(“Please don’t poop on me… please…”)

Studio: Production IMS

Genre: Romantic, Comdey, Fantasy, Supernatural Age: 13+

Released: January 2014 – onwards

Inari is a middle school student, who is sweet and clumsy, and loved by her two best best friends Keiko and Chika. On the way to school Inari rescues a “puppy” from the river bank, but her friends believe that Inari fell into the river due to her clumsiness.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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Purchased: Tiger & Bunny Limited Edition DVD + Blu-ray Volume 1 (UK Edition)

“That’s not a hero!”

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Studio: Sunrise

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Comedy, Superheroes, Science Fiction, Age: 12+

Released: February 2013  (UK version)

Tiger & Bunny has to be be one of the best series made in recent years. So much so, that I watched it multiple times in the Japanese subs, and was ecstatic when it was released in the UK. For once, I have no complaint that a “guy’s series” was being released, since I love superheroes. This series has so many lovable characters, and has original superheroes with their own unique costume design. The only thing that is evil is the cost of each of these volumes.

Since I purchased this when it came out in February last year, it was at full price. Since this is an ultra-lux “Limited Edition” (no, it isn’t, explanations at the end), so let’s see what the buyer gets for their money. Especially since there are four of these volumes to collect.

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First of all, there is a cardboard sleeve with the outer designs of the volume on it. Inside is another cardboard sleeve which holds the disks.  Each side features a superhero from the series. Everything is nice and glossy, and this is one of the major factors for buying this set.

More information and pictures below:

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Anime: Noragami – Episode 2 Summary + Review

“How to live with a tail…”

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(“Oh no! How am I going to get home without my body!”)

Studio: Bones

Genre: Action, Fantasy, Comedy Age: 13+

Released: January 2014 – onwards

From the previous episode, Hiyori is carrying on with her normal school life, but her body and spirit are still seperating at unpredictable moments. Her spirit senses have been getting stronger, and she can see the small phantoms that surround everyone’s daily lives.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

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