Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

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Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

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Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

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Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

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Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

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If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

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Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂

Avatar: Rise of the Naughties Cartoon

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Latimer: As a nineties kid, I always felt like we had the best cartoons – all the Marvel cartoons, Gargoyles, Animals of Farthing Wood, Mummy’s Alive, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Batman… the list goes on!

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Those cartoons had proper, involved story-lines.

But somewhere in the late nineties cartoons got fixed on this one episode, one story, structure, that I never liked. I always missed the ‘larger picture’, the big story arcs.

Then, around this time, I more or less stopped watching cartoons – so they remained, in my mind, fixed in that ‘one episode, one unconnected story’ structure.

In slightly later life, I swapped Western cartoons for Eastern ones. This would be around the time my obsession with anime kicked in. In anime, big story-lines never went out of style!!

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I noticed early in the naughties Western cartoons started to taken on this East-meets-West style; an almost ‘anime but not quite, style’. I think it was due to the popularity of anime at the time.

That was probably what brought me slightly back to Western cartoons.

I think out of all those new ‘East-meets-West’ cartoon series, Avatar, has got to be one of the best.

NICKELODEON THE LAST AIRBENDER

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Forget that terrible movie version. The cartoon is where it’s at!

Avatar is a great show. I was late to the game – I haven’t seen all of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but am a pretty big follower of Avatar: Legend of Korra.

I love the style, music and feel of Avatar… It’s a well-thought out story-line, with interesting characters, with interesting ethnic backgrounds. Basically the story is focused on a world where people have the power of controlling (bending) elements; water, fire, earth and air. The avatar is the one person in the world that can do all four and is sort of the, near as I can tell, spiritual and bending guide of the people. A big figure-head basically.

 

When the avatar dies, the next avatar is born and so on….

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So, when the new Avatar Korra takes centre-stage, you know that the previous Avatar, Aang, is dead.

Which is pretty sad actually, given that the last time we see him is as this chipper 12 year old kid who saved the world. We don’t really get time to grieve over that, we just have to accept it, which is… yeah kind of rough!

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But there’s lots of cool, funny characters in Legend of Korra too (and Korra is a very strong female lead, so that’s pretty cool!)

My favourite characters are Bolin and his little red panda Pabu – Bolin is just brilliant…

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Okay, so maybe the best cartoons didn’t end with the 90s, maybe there are lots more to come! 🙂

Christmas Reading List

Wow, Christmas is here already! How quick was that? Seems like only the other day it was Summer (such as it was here in Ireland!)!

While things wind down and we have a bit of time off, we can relax and finally gorge on… food, yes… but more importantly reading!

Reading copious amounts of books sometimes feels like eating cakes; you wolf them down and then are left thinking; ‘why did I do that?! It’s gone now!’. Of course there’s always another cake during the holidays!

With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a wee list of books we are planning on gorging on this Christmas!

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Late to the game, we are both going to read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth – you could say very up and coming – or already up and came, and we are just very late to the show!

Latimer: My understanding of this series – dystopia (buzz word at the moment, like an –omics, ha, science joke), hmm, there’s sure to be a romance in it and hmm, something about lots of factions and fighting. Okay, honestly, I might be going into this one a little blind!

Ridley: I’m looking forward to this one, the reviews have been good and it seems interesting!!

Latimer: I finally bought The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (finally because I think I have been looking at this one for years thinking ‘I must get that book’). The story is; a boy, called Nobody (I like that already), is raised in a graveyard by ghosts. That’s pretty much all I know; I’m looking forward to it! I’ve only read one Gaiman book (which was a co-authorship with Terry Pratchett; Good Omens, a very good book!). I like the humorous writing style of these two authors, so really looking forward to this book (on a side note, I really want to read Gaiman’s Sandman comics… another story that!).

Ah yes, I’m going to give Delirium by Lauren Oliver a go too… All I know; love is a disease and you can’t love people in this dystopia world (I’m not a massive dystopia fan, but seems most of my loot this year is dystopic in origin!). I absolutely hate the cover of this book (the picture is the cover I have); but that aside, I think the book sounds very interesting!

And I will finally… FINALLY read Angelfall by Susan Ee (again dystopia!), which has a massive Ridley Stamp of Approval (RSA) and therefore, I have no doubt, it will be excellent and so, you should definitely seek out this book out if you haven’t read it yet!

Ridley: And why, pray tell, is this not first on your list!? Thoroughly disgusted I am that you haven’t read this yet! (My RSAs usually have Latimer running out to grab the book-and vice versa I might add- though I know she’s been busy….publishing, editing, working, writing, sleeping, eating, drawing…PAH!) *crosses arms with a pout**

Latimer: Also plan to do a spot of manga reading if I can 🙂 (in English, not Japanese!)

Then I have to do a bit of writing (ah, more than a bit really, I’m behind on a few things! Eep! :(). And eating; currently I have located a packet of ‘Irish Shortbread Biscuits’ and am wolfing them down happily (by myself, I glare if anyone touches them!) with tea in my Moomin cup of an evening 🙂 I love Christmas… food food food… yums (we might be having a cheese board this year, I’m excited haha :))

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Yes, the biscuits are shaped like shamrocks, which is a little obvious, but that’s alright they are delicious 🙂

As Christmas ticks on, we’ve been working on editing a short story we wrote; it’s called Temperance (meaning moderation and self-restraint :)) and is a moment in the past of our character, Temperance Levinthal from Legend Unleashed. It’s going to be free and we hope to have it out as soon as it’s fit to be seen! But we can share this with you (cover time…)

Temperance offical cover

 

Ridley: Ah Temperance, we’re working away on this little story, we hope to share it with you in the new year! Fingers crossed you like it!

And now, some of my books for this Christmas include…

Seraphina, I’ve had my eye on this one for a bit. I just love the old school, sketchy cover. I’ve been on the YA train for so long, it’ll be good to get back to my fantasy roots with this! There are dragons in this world that can shape shift into humans…intriguing, no?

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Again, more fantasy, another one on my list to get, Shadow and Bone. I can’t wait!! Our friend on deviantart, mseregon, also recommended this! She gave us loads of fantastic ideas for our next book too! 

The main character is whisked off to a royal court after it’s discovered that she has dormant powers. There’s also a bit of a possible love interest in her best friend too. So yes please!

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I loved the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, her world building is just beautiful. Prague is such a fantastic setting for her book. And there was a great mystery woven throughout it, so really looking forward to what’s going to happen in this next instalment as there was a bit of a cliff hanger in the last one. I was left going (O_O) at the end! Haha.
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In The Assassin’s Curse, there is, obviously, a curse! It forces the two main characters together. There’s a possible love triangle (i think) and better yet, pirates! How could you not want to read this? Plus the cover is beautiful. I’m a sucker for a good cover!
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So finally everybody, have a lovely Christmas and New Year (if we don’t see you before then!)!

Enjoy your reading time, and let us know if you come across any book gems!!

MLR 🙂

One Lovely Versatile Blogger Award

We’d like to thank Livvy @ Nerdy Book ReviewsChristina and Steven Leo Campbell for nominating us for the ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ and the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’. We’ve had so much fun blogging over the last year. It’s fantastic and humbling to have been nominated for these awards! It also gives us a chance to share, ‘random facts about MLR’. 

These are the rules:

Nominees must: Tell seven things about themselves, pass the award on to 15 other blogs and thank the person who nominated them for the award. Also no one is obligated to take the award, so don’t feel you have to accept it.

And so it begins……….

Caesar Flickerman stepped up to the stage, the lights blinding him. He straightened his tie. A stage-hand appeared at his shoulder, talking into a headset; “1mins to go!” he warned, ducking away in a hurry. Flickerman shuffled the papers in his hand, he took a deep breath. The intro music started to play.

5…4… 3… 2…1…

He ran a hand through his blue hair.

“Show time!”

He stepped out to greet the crowd, “Are you all ready?” They cheered.

“Let’s introduce our guests! Latimer and Ridley!”

Two girls dressed in red, fiery dresses appeared on the stage. The crowd rose to it’s feet screaming…

Caesar guided the girls to their seats. “Ladies, congratulations on not one, but three nominations! How do you feel?”

“Thank you Caesar.” Ridley slipped into her seat and fanned her tears away. “We’re so happy. We’d like to give a shout-out to Livvy, Christina and Steven! Without them none of this could have happened.”

“Shout out!” Latimer screamed randomly. Ridley shushed her. “Shout out…” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth.

Caesar waved towards them with a flourish. “So, Latimer, Ridley, how about you tell us all some interesting facts about yourselves!”

Ridley scratched her head with a confused frown. “Oh, well I love ketchup! I put it on everything!” She gave a rapid nod and swung her arm. “Mash potato, curries, I’ve even had ketchup flavoured Pringles, they were lovely-“

“They were disgusting,” Latimer interrupted, punching the air.

“To you!” Ridley crossed her arms with a pout, then pressed on, “I wear fluffy socks in bed.”  She wiggled her feet, her sparkly high-heels caught the light and flashed out at the audience. The people in the front row covered their eyes with a grimace. Ridley shot them an apologetic shrug. “I recently found out this is actually weird as supposedly very few other people do this.”

“Sweaty feet! Stinky,” Latimer tittered.

“Quiet you!” Ridley coughed, “Don’t mind her. Another, semi-interesting thing about me is I have an obsession with stationary, I love pens, colouring pencils, highlighters, A4 pads, notebooks…” Her list petered off as a dreamy expression crossed her face. She shook herself from her stupor and frowned. “I hate to see pages torn out of a properly bound notebook (where the pages aren’t meant to be torn out, not like in a spiral one) Latimer knows of this particular OCD!”

“Don’t dog-ear my books; number one rule of borrowing from Ridley. I am always afraid when reading her paperbacks- must not break the spine, she’ll kill me,” Latimer added. Ridley nodded in agreement and slashed a finger across her neck with a wide grin.

Ridley pointed at Caesar. “I’m scared of clowns.”

He frowned at her. “I’m not a clown.”

“Hmmm…you’re very colourful.” Her pointing finger hovered in front of his face.

Latimer slapped her hand down. “Don’t mind her Caesar. She loves you really, she’s just a suspicious sort.”

“Of course! Of course…” Caesar gave a forgiving smile and smoothed back his blue hair.

Ridley rubbed her hand. “I find clowns quite creepy, with their wide smiles and abilities to squeeze into small spaces like mini cars. I also hate heights, which rules out all extreme sports to do with being up high and generally falling. Spiders make my skin crawl, this hatred of them started as a child. I read that in a year we all swallow six spiders in our sleep.” Everyone cringed. “As to mice, I have no problem with them, I think they’re cute and I often save them from my sadistic cat!”

“Imagine swallowing six mice a year…” Latimer added. Ridley shuddered.

Ridley scratched her head and then brightened. “My last interesting point or not…I’ve tried in the past to become a morning person, force the dawn cheeriness into me. I can really appreciate the beauty of a rising sun, however not matter how many times I’ve tried, I wander around like a bleary-eyed bear for the first few hours after getting up. I prefer night time! I think I’ll just have to stick to sunsets!”

“When we used to live together during college years, I was afraid of Ridley in the morning. I would be up eating my breakfast watching kids cartoons, and she would walk out of her room, like she was furious with the world,” Latimer nodded.

“And Latimer, tell us some interesting facts about yourself,” Caeser smiled.

“Righty-oh. Ahem; I love red things; given the chance at any option I will always pick the red thing- food, item etc. I love red me.”

She held out her hand counting off the various points. “Ridley says I look like a rabbit when I cross the road- darting and scuttling. She yanks me back from cars when they are about to run me over! Also, if other people around me start running I will automatically also start running (I don’t need to know the reason, I’ll just do it!).

I get obsessed very quickly with random things (face cream and body lotion, namely Burt’s Bees), countries (Japan..) and stories (eg. comic book characters backstories). I will find out everything about said obsession- I will often tell people, I am a fountain of useless information.A sponge for the unimportant.

“It’s true. A giant sponge.” Ridley held her hands out wide.

Latimer tapped her chin with a long pale finger.“My obsessions often have no rhyme or reason; currently I love Sons of Anarchy and contrasting that, I’m crazy about girly anime (shoujo) and asian dramas. 🙂 Most recently; I’m obsessed with San Diego Comic Con. We both really want to go!”

“If you win the games,” Caesar said with a grin. The crowd errupted with laughter and applause.

“Games?” Latimer glanced at Ridley. She shrugged.

“Err, okay… anyway, another random fact- I have a bamboo plant in my room… his name is Herbert.

If I lock a door, I will leave the door walk away then run back to check it’s locked, up to, but not limited to 3 times. No.. I don’t have OCD. No.. I don’t have OCD. No.. I don’t have OCD….

Once I did a tandem sky-dive and a canyon swing- I didn’t ever realise it, but I could be an adrenaline junkie if I lived in a place that had these things on the doorstep! Ridley will watch me fall from the sky with an expression on her face that says she’s going to be sick. I’ll scream ‘look at me!!!!!!’ as I plummet with a smile on my face.”

“Death wish…” Ridley muttered with a shiver.

“I often make up words; when I go to bed, I don’t say goodnight to people, I say good-noooot… and sometimes I say ‘good-noooot lemon spoot’ I don’t know why.”

“Cause you’re nuuuuts….” Ridley giggled with a hand over her mouth and then gasped as she got a sharp elbow in the stomach from Latimer. “Ooh, me intestines…”

“That’s pretty much all I can think of,” Latimer said with a thoughtful look. There was a small pause, Caesar smiled at them both. Ridley had started playing with her dress, spinning the cloth and making small fires dance up her leg.

“Pretty…”  she sighed. When she looked up and the crowd was staring, she patted the fires down with a dreamy smile, “Haha, yep, nothing more to add.”

Caesar clapped and the crowd joined in, bringing the interview to an end. Flickerman leaned forward in his chair, the leather creaked.

“One final question ladies… are you ready to play the Hunger Games?”

Ridley smiled, “Of course…” She looked confused for a moment, her expression unsure. Her eyes widened and she turned sharply. “Wait… what?”

Latimer jumped to her feet, a manic look on her face. Diving off the stage, she shoved all the strangely dressed people out of the way, screaming,  “I’m out of here! You’ll never take me alive!!”

Ridley scrambled away from Caesar. Her heels snagged on her dress and she fell face first off the stage. Leaping up, she stared round with wide eyes at the vibrant colours and weird outfits of the audience and shrieked. “Aah, clowns!”

She hitched up her dress and raced after Latimer.

“Wait for me rabbit girl!!”