Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring 2014 Animes To Watch For

So, after a while I am once again quite excited about a new anime season. This season seems very promising mainly due to return of some old shows, so the new ones just have to be that much good to even compete with these. These are strictly my views, so you guys may agree or disagree, but please feel free to give your comments & opinions regarding this post. The animes are in alphabetical order & is not listed as per any other category.

Dragon Ball Kai (2014)

 I have been a Dragon Ball fan since early childhood when I used to watch and be amazed at the heroics of Goku and co. in Toonami block of CN. Many years have passed and I have not watched the previous Kai episodes but this seems like a great chance to return to those childhood days as this will reenact the Majin Buu saga of the original. I know what to expect from this show but still hoping to be entertained very much.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

 Jojo's manga has been going on since 1987, well it is as old as I am as that was the year I have been born. Although I haven't read the manga or watched the previous show (only played the Capcom games and loved them, btw) I am very much excited about this show as this part is said to be the best of the series. I can't wait to finally get on the bandwagon of this critically acclaimed series.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

 One of the most hyped series this season, while it may not sound anything special from the synopsis, the rating and reviews of the Light Novel tells a very different story. The main male character is very much praised by its fans and even compared to Lelouch ( despite all the flaws of Code Geass I gotta be honest in saying that I like Lalouch, so this makes me intrigued ). Hopefully this show can deliver on its promises unlike many others that didn't.

Mushishi Zoku Shou

 The second season promises to deliver the same level of beauty and wondrous storytelling of the first season. Even before airing this already seems to be a contender of one of the best this season based on the manga and  recently released special, enough said.

Ping Pong The Animation

 I have read the manga, this guy is a genius with his unique somewhat uncharacteristic yet artistically overwhelmingly detailed drawing style and unorthodox method of story telling. It may seem like very simple but trust me the story is so much more than the synopsis. I just hope that the animators can somehow convey even close to the emotion and imagery his actual drawings does.

These are the shows I am mostly interested in this season. I might also watch Akuma no Riddle, Blade and Soul, Haikyuu!!, No Game No Life, Sidonia no Kishi. 
I do hope this season turns out to be as good as I am hoping it will be and really hope to do some reviews of these shows in the future.        

Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Book Review - Treachery in Bordeaux

Book - Treachery in Bordeaux
Writer -
Series - Winemaker Detective
Published By - Le French Book

First things first, I got this book from EdelWeiss, so thank you EdelWeiss and Le French Book for this opportunity. 

Well, this book is certainly not for everyone. It actually caters to the taste of a particular type of readers. So ask yourself these first, do you like a short and simplistic cozy mystery? Do you like exquisitely described scenarios and eccentricities in you characters in a novel? Do you like detailed description almost at the level of love letters to heritage, food and beverage? Most of all do you like anything to do with wine? If you do you will love this book. While I do not myself meet all these criteria's I mentioned, I did like the way of the progression of the story in a casual and somewhat artistically drawn way and this was a short read which is always a bonus for who-dun-it's in my book.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Video Game Reviews - Double Dragon Neon

Game Name - Double Dragon Neon
Publisher - Majesco Entertainment
Developer - WayForward Technologies
Platform - PC (also available on PSN & XBLA)
Genre - Beat 'em Up

As a matter of fact I was looking forward to this game since it came out on other platforms and was hoping for a PC release soon. I had heard many good things about it, the fact that it has a difficulty level comparable to the old classic beat 'em ups and also has a nice design and overall enjoyable combat system. Well I had to wait more than a year for it to be released on PC. But fortunately it did turn out to be a fun game which kept me occupied for more than a week just to finish in normal mode due to uncompromising difficulty level which was really welcome compared to most other beat 'em ups these days. The combat system while a bit awkward to learn at first was actually innovative and fun. It was a like walk through memory in the end, as I remembered those days when I used to go to arcades to play games like "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs", "Final Fight", "Captain Commando" etc with friends.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Author Interview - Anna Kashina

Up till now this blog of mine has been just about my personal opinions of stuff and a few videos, but this is something totally different. Thanks to the wonderful people at "Angry Robot" and the lovely author "Anna Kashina" I received an ARC for her new novel "The Blades of the Old Empire" which I read, liked and reviewed. So when I was offered the opportunity of interviewing the author for my blog by the same people I jumped to the opportunity and here is the result as I promised earlier -
Anna Kashina

1) Welcome to the blog. First tell us a bit your new novel "The Blades of the Old Empire"?

Thank you for hosting me. It is great to have this opportunity to talk about my new book.

“Blades of the Old Empire” is a fast-paced adventure fantasy with elements of romance. It is centered around a power struggle between the kingdom of Tallan Dar and the Kaddim Brotherhood, a dark older of sorcerers planning to overthrow the king and restore the Old Empire. Prince Kythar, the heir to the throne, possesses a magic gift that enables him to resist the usurpers, so the conflict erupts around the prince. He and his protectors, the Majat warriors, become the prime target for the Kaddim.

2) This is your first book for "Angry Robots", so how does it feel to be a part of this publishing house?

It has been really wonderful, right from the start. Working with Angry Robot made me feel as part of a dynamic and powerful team--everyone is so good at what they do, so that I can focus only on perfecting my story with secure knowledge that somebody who is better at it than me will take care of the rest. I think joining the Angry Robot family has been one of the best things that happened to me, definitely in my writing life.

3) Assassins are kind of common in these times in fantasy books, so what is different about your protagonist "Kara"? Why would the readers feel connected to her and the other main character "Kythar"?

Well, my assassins, the Majat, are more like elite mercenaries, so they are very far from the traditional assassins of other fantasy books. They are commonly hired as bodyguards, but as it turns out their top ranks are also indispensable when it comes to a necessity to assassinate someone--hence the name.

In this book, Kara serves in her capacity as a bodyguard to Prince Kythar. In addition to being a kick-ass warrior she is also a very attractive woman, and she is having trouble dealing with this combination. She also has trouble dealing with the Majat code, which requires for her to follow orders no matter what. I hope that this conflict makes her different, and interesting.

My book is somewhat unusual, because, while I consider Kara to be the main protagonist, she has no point of view in the story. It is told through the eyes of Kythar, who admires her. I am hoping this admiration will reach far enough to make the readers feel connected with both her and Kythar. I should also mention, however, that there are other characters in the book who are nearly as major and very connectable to. I hope everyone would find a few characters to enjoy.

4) You mentioned in your opinion about the book that it is much different from your other books due to its movement and action, so the magic system must be a key factor about this. So can you tell us something about that?

True, the magic system in the Blades has to do with combat for the most part. First the Majat: their top ranks, Diamonds, are faster and stronger than regular humans, and these qualities are a form of magic of its own, even though it is never emphasized in the kingdom where magic has been forbidden for centuries. The bad guys, the Kaddim, cannot really stand up to the Majat in a fight, but they counter their disadvantage by mastering mind magic, which can make a person confused and disoriented and can all but disable a Majat in battle. Prince Kythar’s magic upsets this balance. His ability comes down to focus, making him able to resist the Kaddim’s mind control. Of course he is no match for them in a fight, so it wouldn’t have been a problem, but at the beginning of the book he manages to pass his Kaddim resistance to his Diamond Majat bodyguard, Kara. This is how everything starts...

5) In every fantastic setting "world-building" is a major aspect, so can you give us some info on that regarding this book?

A lot of world-building went into the story, and most of it is developed behind the scenes, so I am hoping I chose the right balance of how much to put into the book. The world is a blend of cultures, with elements of East and West, and everything in between. It has its own mythology and folklore, and even distinct elements of matriarchal societies. The clearest aspect of this that probably stands out in the story has to do with the Majat: warriors who practice Eastern martial arts in a medieval European setting. I hope the readers will find it different, and fun.
Cover of "Blades of the Old Empire"

6) To work with romance on fantasy setting is kind of a tricky business, please tell us how the element of romance works in this book and how it will complement the overall plot?

To me romance is an ultimate form of character development, so the two major romances that thread this book became a natural part of the story. It seemed so natural that, to be honest, I did not realize this was a romantic fantasy until I finished the book. I think the main role the romance plays in this book is by showing unexpected sides of two major characters who are perceived differently by everyone else. For fear of spoilers, I will not elaborate, but I do hope this creates the right expectations.

7) So, 2013 has been great year for fantasy lovers, can you tell us about some of the books you read or liked?

Out of the new releases in 2013 my favorites were probably two books by Amy Raby, two installments in her Hearts and Thrones series: “Assassin’s Gambit” and “Spy’s Honor”. They were published as romance novels, but to me they read more like fantasy. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the series.

My other recent favorite was N.K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”, but it came out earlier than 2013. I admire N. K. Jemisin’s work.

8) So what to expect from you after this novel? Can you give a little insight on your upcoming projects?

I have just completed “The Guild of Assassins”, book 2 of the Majat Code, and am now working on book 3. I do have some other unrelated projects in the pipeline, but they are probably best left off from this interview. Living in the world of the Majat Code has been fun, and I hope to be able to develop the series further.

Well, goodbye and I wish that your book does very well and hoping to see you again here in the future.

To know more about the lovely author and her works (including the new one of course) visit her interesting blog -

PS: Hopefully other publishers that I reach through to by netgalley, angry robots and other sources will give me such opportunities for more interviews and stuff like this in the future. 

New Anime Review - Culticle Detective Inaba

Anime Name - Cuticle Detective Inaba
Aired - Jan 4, 2013 to March 22, 2013
Episodes - 12

Produced By - Zexcs, Sentai Filmworks 
Staff - Susumu Mitsunaka (Director), Mochi (Original Creator), Hideo Takahashi (Sound Director)

Does an anime have to make sense to be good? Or even have a general direction to be appreciated? And how far can a show really go through just plain humor and gags? Well, pretty far if you consider this gem of a show which neither did get the attention it deserves nor did it fool itself with that notion. Rather the creator and the artists just tried to give enjoyment to the select few viewers it is likely to get and achieved even a certain level of perfection in their approach. And having a cool villain or rather a cool mafia goat (not joking really) villain is a huge boost to this awesome attempt at insane comedy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review - The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan

Book - The Crown Conspiracy
Writer - Michael J. Sullivan 
Series - The Riyria Revelations #1
Published By - Aspirations Media Inc.

Epic fantasy is a genre where to be really good we do expect the stories to be close to 1000 pages; we expect it to be part of a bigger series which progresses through each book as part of a whole of an even bigger overall plot. So what do you expect when you get a book/series advertising all the separate stories to be kind of stand alone ones and average book length about 300 pages? Well whatever the expectations I didn't expect to like this book so much as I did; a thoroughly enjoyable read with interesting cast of characters, witty dialogue and interesting world-building (which promises much more than it reveals) was what I got in this book and also found a new author to follow.