Saturday, August 28, 2010

100th Post

Finally, the number of post has reached 100- a century. I hope now, our visitors will find more reviews to read. we're aiming for 150 now.

Pokemon Emerald



Pokemon Emerald is was released a while back but I am reviewing it now since I didn't get the time to review it before.

Pokemon Emerald is the game for the Honnen region. The honnen starters are very good, some evolving into very unique double-types (liek Swampert and Blaziken). Even though Sceptile is not dual-type, it is as good, if not better than the other starters. The best thing about the starters is that they are all equally good. I have played with all three and found them all exceptional. That could make the choice difficult but at the same time, any choice will be the right choice. Unlike Firered, where Squirtle was purely defensive, all the Honnen starters have good offensive power.


The graphics of the game are at par with all other pokemon games and pretty pleasent to watch. The battles are numerous and challenging. The gym leaders and pretty strong and might require a few tries to win over. The elite four has really unique types (like dark and ghost).

But the BEST thing about Emerald is the addition of the battle frontier which spiced up the gameplay significantly. All the frontier brains are strong. Sometimes too strong. Yet, the addition of battle frontier makes emerald offer a longer and more addictive gameplay.



Emerald is really the best game in the pokemon franchise. Even though the subsequent games also included battle frontier, Emerald's frontier was the best.

You can find it cheap at Amazon.com.

Pokemon Fire Red



Pokemon Fire red was released for GBA and features the Kanto region of Pokemon. The player starts from pallet town where he has to choose a starter- Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur. The rest of the game focuses on the player catching more pokemon, training them, building a team of six and beating gym leaders and the elite four.

As with all other Pokemon games, Fire Red does not disappoint. It is spectacular. In fact, I might say that it is the best game in the Pokemon franchise except Emerald.

The starters of Kanto and pretty strong and diverse with many fully-evolving into dual types unlike the Johto starters. The gym leaders are also strong and present a resonable challenge. The elite four is pretty strong, especially the champion. the concept of the seven islands was very interesting and had me hooked to the game. The rematch with the elite four was also a much-needed element.

However, one major drawback of this game is that as soon as you have beaten the elite four the second time, there is nothing much to do. No battle frontier or something to keep you occupied forever. Despite that, Firered is very addictive and entertaining.

The graphics are a huge step-up from the GBC games and I am glad. The battle system is teh typical pokemon battle system. The cities all look pretty good.

A very entertaining and fun game. There are few games which can compete with pokemon games in addictiveness. DDo yourself a favor and buy this game.

Amazon.com offers a discount on this one. Gamestop.com might also be a place to consider.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harvest Moon- Island of Happiness



Harvest Moon Island of Happiness is a part of the Harvest Moon franchise. It is however, a bit different. The player can choose to play as a boy or girl (i played as a boy so teh review is from that perspective)

In Island of Happiness, your character is shipwrecked on an island. There, he meets old man Taro, who gives him a farm and tells him to grow crops, raise animals and other farming duties. As the player reaches specific goals or does specific actions, new people come into the island. The user also has to build bridges, roads etc. on the island.

I found this game a lot more diffficult than the previous Harvest Moon games where the goal was just to farm, make money and court girls. In IOH, the player is expected to spend all his hard-earned money in building roads etc. Even the festivals don't happen unless a bridge is built. And these constructions and not cheap at all.

The player's health is very bad too. Even before I plough and water two 3x3 patches, the player runs out of stamina and collapses. His stamina does not increase in the course of the game, either. Only after the diner and cafe, things improve a bit.

Most of the love interests and not on the island in the beginning (with the exception of Natalie). Bringing them on the island is pretty hard and on top of that, if you don't do something for a month, the people leave. This was the worst part. After I went through the trouble of getting all of them, they leave!



Making money is pretty hard at the beginning but it gets easier later on. Due to the absence of Harvest Sprites, all the work of watering and everything has to be done by the player throughout the game which was another major drawback of this game.

Thankfully, the love interests of both the girl and the boy look cute. I found it difficult to decide which girl to court since all looked so good. I settled for Lanna at the end.



Getting married is another hassle. However, I am not going to describe that in detail.

Overall, the difficulty level has been raised significantly due to which I did not enjoy Ioh as much as the previous games.

If you have to play this game, you need a walkthrough at every step. You can get one at ushi no tane- http://www.fogu.com/hm7/

The place where you can find best bargains on NEW games is Amazon.com and sometimes play-asia.com.

Plot-4.5
Graphics-4.3
Challenge-4.2 (not a very positive aspect, though)
Sound- 3.4
Overall gameplay-4

Drama Review- Yamato Nadeshiko




Please don't confuse this drama with Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (Perfect girl evolution). Yamato Nadeshiko means a perfect japanese woman. This is a popular j drama starring Nanako Matsushima and Tsutsumi Shinichi. Both won television academy award for this drama. It had around 26% viewership. It is one of the popular j dramas.

Matsushima Nanako grew up in a very poor family and is thus determined to marry a rich man so that she will never have to go through poverty ever again, and is named the "gokon queen" in her quest to find her man. Tsutsumi Shinichi is a brilliant academic (Fields prize winner - Nobel Prize equivalent in Mathematics) who gave up his studies to take over his deceased father's fish-shop. They meet through a doctor's "gokon" (group date) and she falls in love with him under the mistaken assumption that he is a very rich man... --Edwina Wong

The first episode is amusing. Nanako Matsushimna's visits to gokon are pretty funny. She greedily eyes every man's hands to find a rolex watch, his pocket to find a horse racing badge and his side to see if he has a car. She advises her colleagues to look for these things in a man. She meets Tsutsumi Shinichi in a doctor's gokon and starts courting him believing that he is a rich man. She leaves her fiancee Higashijyugo san for Tsutsumi Shinichi believing that he is a better catch.

The first two episodes go quite well with Nanako Matsushima believeing that Tsutsumi Shinichi is a rich guy who bets on horses, earns a lot and lives in a large house. The horse betting pin is only borrowed from a man who lives in that big house that Nanako Matsuhima mistakes for his.
Tsutsumi Shinichi is a workaholic who was pursuing PhD when his girlfriend left him because she told him she couldn't see his future. He comes back to Japan on hearing of his father's death leaving his PhD incomplete. He owns a small fish shop called 'Uoharu' and helps his mother there.

In the first two-three episodes, the match progresses well because Nanako Matsuhima doesn't know Tsutsumi Shinichi's true background. However, Higashijyugo san is suspicious from the beginning. He likes Nanako Matsushima and doesn't want her to marry Tsutsumi Shinichi. Finally, he discovers his true identity and tells her about it. After that, she breaks up with him. He is heart broken and never sees any other girl.
However, her collegue Wakaba starts helping out at his shop and begins to develop feelongs for her. He also, often visits the doctor who is also a good friend of Nanako Matsuhima and sometimes they are at his house on the same time. Therefore, there is a lot of interaction between them and Nanako Matsushima truly begins to develop feelings for him. He was in love with her in the first place.

She later discovers that he is well educated and tries to persuade him to give up the fish shop and look for a lucrative job. But he believes that the shop is his late father's gift to him and his only posession and insists on working there.

The theme song 'Everything' by Misia is played in almost every scene. The song resonates in your head after you've finished the drama.

Story- 4/5
Characters- 4.2/5
Acting- 4.3/5
Overall- 3.8/5

The focus was on romance but for most of the episodes, Nanako Matsushima is engaged to Higashijyugo san and she even gets into a marriage with him.
The relationship between Nanako Matsushima and Tsutsumi Shinichi doesn't progress very well. It starts well but after the break up it wanders. They fight a little and even help each other but the interaction is minimal. Romantic scenes don't take place after the first two episodes. Therefore,when she runs from the marriage to look for him, it appears fake.
I felt very bad when Wakaba chan's heart was broken because she was the one who was truly helpful and encouraging. Even through from Tsutsumi Shinichi's side the love appears true, from Nanako Matsuhima's side, it develops rather late and appears fake.

I liked the ending though. She chases him to America and marries him. He becomes a professor and they live happily ever after.

Some scenes like the fight about quitting studies halfway and being materialistic was okay but the relation doesn't develop much just explodes in the end. Higashijyugo sand appears as her fiancee for most of the drama and it seems rather foolish to quit the marriage and go for Shinichi. There was no love to fuel such a decision.

The last two episodes about the marriage and going to America are good if you ignore the rest of the drama. The episodes in between the first two and the last two episodes did nothing great. Nanako Matsuhima's character is the same for most of the drama and abruptly changes in the last two episodes.

Some scenes in the episodes in between are good but there are no romantic scenes and therefore no spice or fun in the drama.

All other things except romance are good.

Overall, it is an average daily life romance drama much like Long Vacation but inferior. The story lacks emotion. People interested in knowing more about japanese culture or wanting to watch an average japanese drama might benefit from this one but it can easily be skipped.



Pros

Cast
Idea of the story
Ending
Theme song 'everything'


Cons

Romance
At times, Nanako Matsushima looks blank
Slow development

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Linda Goodman- Star Signs



So, I am reviewing another book by Linda Goodman who now, has become one of my favourite authors. I skipped 'Relationship Signs' because there's not much to review in that book. It is full of charts and you can skip buying that if you calculate your natal chart online. However, it teaches to create a natal chart which maybe valuable information for astrologers.

This book is the last book on astrology from Linda Goodman and ends her memorable astrology saga. Unlike the previous books, this has high metaphysical content. This book will be difficult to understand unless you have read her previous books- Sun Signs, Love Sings and Relationship signs. This is not like Twilight where you can start from the last or second last book and understand everything. The only difference is that reading the initial books of Twilight is torture wheras reading Linda Goodman's book is a pleasure.

This book has ample content and teaches too many new things. It teaches numerology, lexigrams and career choices for various zodiac signs. But that's about all the practical and recognisable information contained in this book. It mostly ponders secret codes of the universe and deeper issues like aura, deja vu and clairaudience and clairvoyance. For sensible people and non believers, the journey ends here. You might want to study the career options and numerology part. The other parts are not necessary for becoming a professional astrologer.
But for people who are looking for deep answers, meaning of life, karma, physical immortality, health and other metaphysical issues and secrets, the journey has only begun. I personally love all this. It helped me find answers I was looking for. However, all this knowledge is not necessary for an astrologer and is only presented for general interest.

Rating- 4.9/5 (For that unbearably tiny print)

Numerology is well taught and Linda Goodman is vivid and clear as usual. All the numerological information is second hand information collected by Cheiro. You will still want to read this book just for the introduction. I bought another specialised numerology book after this one to complete my knowledge of numerology.
Lexigrams is another thing that astrologers may not need to know. English was the magical language spoken in the holy garden of Eden and therefore it is believed that english words contain hidden meanings. When Linda Goodman gives you striking examples of this, it really appeals. People researching christianity may find it especially interesting.
The career guide was not particularly useful for me. It only tells of the 'kind' of career that suits you and no specific careers but I guess that's the job of a career counsellor and not an astrologer.
The next chapter talks of the benefits of vegetarianism and other ways of being healthy. It is not a scientific essay on vegetarianism, just gives a brief paragraph or two from the metaphysical point of view.

Another prominent chapter (the last one) talks about physical immortality and how thinking influences being. This one is interesting though not very relevant.
Linda Goodman, as usual ends our unforgettable astrological journey by quoting a wondeful line from KABC-

We bring you the world as it is,
Imagine what it could be

Thus, we come to an end of the wonderful Linda Goodman's saga. In case you didn't know, she used numerology while naming her books. It might help you too. Unlike Cheiro, she is optimistic and I would advice her book on Sun Signs over his. However, his other books such as palmistry and numerology are more accurate. Linda Goodman is called
'Diva of Astrology' since her books were the first astrological books that made it to the New York Bestseller lists. She has written another book of astrological poems titled 'Gooberz'. I have been looking high and low for it but have been unable to find it. It does not give any information from what I read, just a collection of poems.

When you finally finish these four wonderful books, you'll be enlightened. You'll wonder what your neighbour's sun sign is and start discussing astrology in no time. Everything will shine with a new meaning. You'll want to know the deeper meaning behind everything and want to ponder the endless possibilities that lie undiscovered, enveloped in mystery and taboo. You'll find some secret messages here and there and some interesting lexigrams. Most of all, you'll find the answer to your biggest question and decode the biggest secret- yourself.

I found this book particularly enlightening and better than the previous ones (excluding 'Sun Signs'). Good news is that this one had better page quality. Bad News is that the print was still the same. It is necessary if you are interested in things of this kind. Probably after reading all four books, you'll consider becoming an astrologer. The knowledge contained in this book is enough for an amateur astrologer even for an mediocre one but you'll have to do a little more to become a professional.

So, we come back to the quote we started with-
'Seek the truth and it shall set you free'

Pros

Enlightening
Easy to understand
Valuable/rare information
Great cover design
Better quality paper than the previous ones

Cons

Tiny print

Book Review- Linda Goodman- Love Signs




I am reviewing another one of Linda Goodman's book. You might not be able to understand this book unless you have read the previous one- Sun Signs. Her books follow a certain order like a fiction series. The first one is Sun Signs followed by Love Signs, Relationship Signs and Star Signs. I have done a review of Sun Signs. You can read it on the site.
In case you have not guessed, I am totally in love with Linda Goodman's books and astrology. All her books are high quality in content (The printing is of the poorest quality.). Her language is easy to understand and she is not forceful in her writing. She allows the reader to think and make his/her own decisions. Precision is pretty good although it keeps degrading from book to book. I will be reviewing her Star Signs, another fabulous book, anytime soon.

So, this one as you might have already guessed talks about love. It explains the relationship between every sign of the zodiac with every other. That makes it one hundred and forty four combinations. The book is pretty long around 1200+ pages and the print is as tiny as it could get. The paper quality like I have warned you before, is poor but the book's so great that all these things can be ignored. Like the previous book, which has a wide appeal, this book's appeal is not as wide. Her universal appeal keeps reducing with each book as they become more and more technical.

Every match is divided into three categories. For example, if the match is Capricorn and Virgo, it is divided into Capricorn man and Virgo woman, Virgo man and Capricorn woman and an overall description of the vibration and match which is useful for business relations, friends, relatives etc.

Though the descriptions of matches might prove true, it may not always work in real life. Many matches which have been categorised as squared or opposed (something which is considered inharmonious) have proven to be very successful in real life. Linda Goodman agrees that human love cannot be predited accurately using these vibrations since humans act on will. However, if you want to read any furthur, or have a deep understanding of astrology, you might want to read these.

Rating- 4.4/5 (lesser than the previous one)

It is also amusing and entertaining like a fiction book. This is the last book in this series which doesn't have any charts and other technical information like numerology. Sun Signs was something every layman could read. Love signs is practical with very less technical stuff and will appeal to most. However, the books after these are technical and will appeal to only those who have read the previous books or those interested in a deeper understanding of astrology.

If you're dating or planning on getting married, this book is useful. Others who are not into dating or marriage can enjoy this book too.

The book contains the 'love mysteries' of every sign and the stage of life they represent. This might be valuable information for metaphysicians but the book Star Signs has more metaphysical content.

Linda Goodman as always, maintains a positive tone. Each chapter too is ended on a positive note.

This book will save your time of getting relationship advice from astrologers and other sources. It provides direct, first hand information that can prove useful.

One great shortcoming is the print and page quaity as I have emphasised numerous times. I guess if the publisher printed a 1200+ pages book in high quality print on first class paper, it would cost a fortune. The cover is great though.
I again say that this might not appeal to people born on cusp dates unless they get their accurate sign checked from a professional astrologer. All the cons I mentioned in Sun Signs apply here too.
Some may find it a waste of money to buy a 1200+ pages book when you're not going to read all the pages. But it is entertaining and is a complete guide to the human heart. It might prove useful at a later stage.

Overall, the book is great and fun to read. Some may feel that it is not as comprehensive as Sun Signs maybe because it has to cover more content. Linda Goodman spent ten years writing this book and I think it was good. In case you're wondering what Linda Goodman's sun sign is, it is Aries. She mentions it many times in her book. This book is worth every penny you spend on it. Please read Sun Signs before you read this one. I still find Sun Signs better than this one.

Pros

Description of all possible 144 matches
Love mysteries
Nature of signs
Easy to understand

Cons

Tiny print
Poor page quality
Too long

Nicolas Sparks- Nights in Rodanthe



I had heard mant people mentioning Nicolas Sparks and how good he is as a writer, so I decided to try out of of his books.

Nights in Rodanthe was the only book that was available in the bookstore, so it was bought.

The story begins in 2002 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Adrienne Willis, a part-time librarian and divorced mother of three, is helping her daughter, Amanda, cope with depression due to the loss of Amanda's husband and to Amanda's difficulties raising their two children. In an effort to show that life goes on despite the trying times, Adrienne relates to Amanda a specific part of Adrienne's life: she flashes her memory back to 1988 when she first met Paul Flanner.

Adrienne was abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. She parented their children alone and took care of her sick father. This had worn her down. So when a request to tend an inn in the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina, comes from a friend, Adrienne grabs the opportunity in hopes of finding solace. As soon as she arrives, a major storm is forecast. Meanwhile, Paul, a fifty-four-year-old father, arrives there too. He has sold his home and practice, and now wishes to travel to an isolated place where he can seek relief from his shattered past. A successful surgeon, he has recently divorced from his wife, and has had a patient die.

While the storm looms, the two characters (who are the only people at the inn) find compassion in one another and fall in love. As a few days pass, Adrienne and Paul slowly realize that once they leave, they must return to their separate lives. Paul explains a promise to join his estranged son in a medical clinic in Ecuador; eventually, he and Adrienne part. Adrienne returns to Rocky Mount. Paul heads for Ecuador. They communicate through letters, further fortifying their love. Paul, however, dies in Ecuador.
-wikipedia

As you can see, if you have been reading carefully, everything seemed to be flowing pretty well until the last line. Paul, however dies. It is so unexpected that it is unable to evoke any emotion.

I really don't know why Nicolas Sparks insists on writing tragedy. But that is beside the point, anyway. Even if he wants to write tragedy, he should be some good at the romance that happens before the tragedy. The romance here is as abrupt and unsatisfactory as the ending. The two and in an inn and talking like distant strangers one day and the next day POOF! They are in love. The love was so shallow that I could not convince myself that something had actually happened between them. Friendship was the maximum that was plausible. Also, since there was no proper love (and hence no proper emotion) in the story, I felt nothing when the doctor died in the end. Just an unexpected twist, but nothing powerful enough to arouse any tears or anything.

If Nicolas Sparks thinks that he can create a second Romeo and Juliet simply by putting two wounded people in an inn for a weekend and saying that they love each other without showing anything like that in detail, then he is mistaken. The tragedy he writes has no meaning. Romeo and Juliet had a meaning. Their death was a symbol of society's prejudice. But Nicolas Sparks just kills characters because he wants to make the book tragic.

Maybe he should focus more on making the romance real and more passionate rather than finding new ways and diseases to kill characters.

Story-4
Plot-3.2
Style-3
Characters-3

If you want to read a book by Nicolas Sparks, I suggest you don't start with Nights in Rodanthe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NEWS

The search box is not working so, we sorted out categories into labels. Be sure to browse the labels if you are looking for something in particular or want to know what kinds of reviews are posted on this site. Sorry for the inconvinience.

NEWS

I added a new amazon mp3 gadget. It is on the right top and plays music on clicking the play button. Currently I have set the theme to classical because they didn't have a jpop option. The playlist contains popular instrumental pieces like Canon in D, Moonlight Sonata, Rhapsody in Blue, Four seasons and A river flows in you by Yiruma. There are some uptempo songs too. There are also several versions of Time to Say Goodbye which is the highest selling german single sang by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. There are also popular pop ballads like My Heart will go on by Celine Dion, opera song O mio babbino caro and other mainstream guitar orineted pop songs. The player plays only a few seconds of each song. A nice way to try out new songs. You can select the songs you want to hear by clicking on them.

Please post your feedback. I am experimenting with this and may remove it anytime.

Enka song reviews part 2

Here are some more great enka songs. The more I listen to enka, the more I get hooked to it. The depressing and wistful lyrics and the soaring, lush melody are just a great combo. I'm just cursing myself for not knowing about enka earlier.


Moshikashite part 2 (Perhaps part 2)

A popular enka hit by Kobayashi Sachiko. It is intended to be a duet. Akina Nakamori and The Checkers covered the song once. The song is generally mid tempo and switches between male and female parts. The chorus is not too high or prominent but the song is pleasant to listen to. Akina and Fuji Fumiya's version was amusing. Kobayashi Sachiko sings the song well.
4.2/5



Kanashii Sake (Sad sake)

Another popular hit by Hibari Misora. It is very low and doesn't rise very much at any point. The song means 'sad sake'. The song as the title suggests is depressing and melancholic. Hibari sings it in her unbelievably low voice and does justice to the song. The song gives a feeling of sadness and loss. There are some talking parts in the middle but the sad instrumental continues throughout those parts and maintains the flow of the song. It has been covered by many singers including Akina Nakamori. The only thing is that the volume has to be high in order to hear this song. It is so low that it is inaudible at low volume. The song is very emotional especially the version by Hibari Misora.
4.5/5


Toki no nagare ni mi wo makase (Let it depend on the flow of time)

Another popular enka hit that was sang by Teresa Teng- a popular chinese singer. She gained a lot of fame in Japan and this is considered her signature song. The chorus is prominent in this song. It is pretty much an average enka song. It has been covered a lot, most recently by Tokunaga Hideaki in his Vocalist album. A pleasant song to listen to again and again.
4.3/5



Sukiyaki/ Ue wo muite arukou (I walk looking up)

Originally titles 'Ue wo muite arukou' is a popular single by Kyu Sakamoto that sold over thirteen million overseas and hit #1 on Billboard making it the highest charting japanese song in America. The song contains only one verse or chorus whatever you'd like to call it, which repeats indefinitely. It starts out with whistling which sounds refreshing. Kyo Sakamoto's voice is suited to the light atmosphere of the song. The song is pleasant and breezy. It sounds like a light song somone would hum while walking down the street.
4.5/5


Sen no Kaze ni Nattte (I am the thousand winds that blow)

This is a recent enka song that was recorded by Akikawa Masafumi. It is based on a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye titled 'Do not stand at my grave and weep'. The poem is very good and so are the lyrics but the lyrics lack the rhythm. The song was however, very good. It starts out with a piano prelude followed by Akikawa Masafumi's powerful, enka vocals. Akikawa Msafumi's voice overpowers the instruments but the song is a powerful enka ballad. Overall, I found it very powerful and captivating.
4.6/5



Momen no Hankachifu (Cotton handkerchief)

I don't know if this one can be categorised as enka but it sounds like enka. It was sugn bu Ohta Hiromi in 1975. It became her signature song. The lyrics talk about a person who has gone to the city and communicates to a loved one through this song. The songwriter starts by saying goodbye and transitions to talking about sending mementos from the city. Later, the person talks about how innocent the lover is who doesn't put on make up. The songwriter becomes a part of the city and tells the lover that he is never coming back and requests the lover to send a cotton handkerchief for wiping tears. The song sounds like a typical old song with Ohta Hiromi's slightly nasal voice. The song doesn't have a prominent chorus and the same paragraph repeats four times. A pleasant summer song. The mp3 is a cover version by rock band Ikimono Gakari. Though it doesn't have the 'enka' feel, the melody is the same.
4.5/5

Be sure to try out some of these wonderful songs.

Bargains- Playasia or Yesasia will probably sell these. Try CD japan.

Enka song reviews

These are reviews of random enka songs. Some of them can be found on Akina Nakamori's Enka. The songs are very old and some albums which contain these songs are unavailable. Most of these songs are from different periods and by different artists.

I just wanted to review these songs because I find enka songs very beautiful and melodic. These are some of the better songs that I have heard.


1. Mugonzaka by Kaori Kouzai- Mugonzaka means Silent Hill. The song is very poetic and the tune flows very smoothly as if an uninterruupted breeze were blowing. I get the feeling that I am standing on a dark hill when I listen to this song. It's arrangement is nice. Kaori Kouzai's voice carries off this song very nicely. Akina has covered this song in her ENKA album but her voice sounds weak. A breathtaking song which will definately make you change your opinion of enka if you don't like enka.
Ratting-4.6


2. Amagigoe by Sayuri Ishikawa- It starts off with tradional sounding Japanese instruments. Then Sayuri's emotional voice comes in and the rest of the song just passes before you know it is over. Sayurii Ishikawa is one of the most prominent singers of enka and she truly deserves it because her voice is one of the best. Her high notes are perfect and when she sings about waterfalls, her voice also rises and falls like water. It is her masterpiece song. It was the theme for a movie of the same name. Amagigoe means Crossing Amagi (Amagi is a mountain)
Rating-4.5


3.Kawa no nagare noyouni- This is a song by Japanese songstress Hibari Misora who is to date, considered the best singer of Japan. In a recent poll by oricon in 2010, Hibari topped the list of best musicians ever, above Hamasaki, who was in ninth position. Hibari is long dead, but her voice and songs continue to live in the heart of Japanese people. Her voice is one-of-a-kind deep and emotional voice that no singer can ever match. This song is a beautiful work of art by her and worth a listen. Her other songs are very nice too.
Rating-4.6


4.Yume wa Yoru Hiraku by Keiko Fuji- Keiko Fuji is Utada Hikaru's mother (that's right THE Utada Hikaru). She was a reasonable popular enka singer in her times. This was one of her most popular songs. It means My dreams bloom at night. The song's lyrics describe a mature woman who goes over her past. The song might not be liked by those not used to enka. It's lyrics are dark and the song is repetitive but it is good.
Rating-4


5.Koibito Yo by Mayumi Itsuwa- Koibito Yo means 'beloved'. It was composed by Mayumi Itsuwa herself. A wonderful song worth a listen. Ai Takahashi of Hello project covered it on Uta Doki pop classics. Her version is pretty good too. This song has also been covered by Hibari Misora.
Rating-4.7

I really like enka music. i am palnning to make a part 2 of Enka song reviews.....and maybe a part 3 too. Enka music is not outdated and oldish as many people consider it. It is just like any modern ballad but with Japanese instruments.

Hitomi Shimatani- Osaka no Onna




Hitomi Shimatani is a relatively popular avex act on the j-pop scene. She gained popularity with her single Amaiiro Kami no otome and album Best. Osaka no Onna is her first single.




1. Osaka no Onna- Means Woman from Osaka. It is an enka song and starts off with electric guitar like all enka songs. It sounds depressing from the start.Hitomi's voice comes in after that. It is a very sweet. However, it is a complete mismatch for a sad and enkaish song like Osaka no onna. Enka singrs usually have deep, sad-sounding voices or like Sayuri Ishikawa even if their voice is high pitched they sound mature. Hitomi does sound mature but her voice lacks the emotion to carry off an enka song. It sounds too 'thin' at some points. But the song's composition is really good.
Rating-4

2. Kaze no Machi- This is also an enka song but it is sounds more uplifting than Osaka no onna. It has some bell like instruments in the background. But its songwriting is nothing spectacular and it fails to sound catchy.
Rating-3

Overall, it sounds okay but Hitomi's voice is not for enka. It's a good thing that she shifted to pop.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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Contact Us

If you have any suggestions, problems with the site, want to suggest a book, anime, manga, drama, game for review or anything else, please contact at elementswater13@yahoo.com. Also, before recommending manga, read a post on manga already read. Also, we have very specific tastes in regard to books, manga, which I will list.

Books

Romance
Comedy
Drama
Nothing too serious or tearjerking (like Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks)
No sci-fi please.
Fantasy is subjective and depends on the individual book.
Mystery is okay but it usually depends in the individual book
Thriller
Horror (Mostly the psycological kind and not with too much blood/gore, violence etc.)
School life if it is interesting
Children's
YA as long as it is not another derivative of twilight

Manga
Action
Shonen (no ecchi)
Shojo
Josei
Comedy
Supernatural is okay
No tragedies
Romance
Magic
Mystery
No seinen manga
Sports

Music
I usually listen to specific artists but if you have any good artist in mind, I like artists with meaningful lyrics and catchy songs. I sometimes listen to ballads but nothing too generic. I also listen to j-rock, visual kei, enka and old music. (like the 80s)

For anything, please e-mail at elementswater13@yahoo.com and for books, manga try to include a long synopsis with sample chapters if possible. For music CDs, 30-second previews will work.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Anime Review- Itazura na Kiss



Itazura na kiss (playful kiss) is a popular shoujo manga and is considered a shoujo classic. The mangaka, Kaoru Tada died before completing the manga and it was halted abruptly at 23 volume. When the anime was made, her husband told the animators about the ending Kaoru Tada was planning and urged them to end this anime in the way she had pictured. Therefore, logically, the anime is the only complete version of this story. It was adapted into a drama form.

The story is a classic shoujo manga story- Kotoko, a complete ditz falls for the most popular and amazing boy in school- Irie who is one year her senior. When she finally gathers the courage to give him her love letter, he rejects her off hand. However, fate has other plans. Kotoko's house is destroyed in an earthquake and she moves with her father to his friend's house who coincidentally turns out to be Naoki Irie's father. His mother is convinced that she'll make a perfect bride for Naoki although he thinks otherwise. He helps her study and become better although she remains a ditz throughout most of her studying life.

The story is quite long as it progresses from high school days to marriage and children.

The story overall was quite good. Though Kotoko progressed from a ditz to a responsible working woman.The change in Naoki was not that drastic. He only admitted hisn feelings in the end.

The love doesn't appear rushed because the story covers a long timeline. Even after marriage, Kotoko decides to transfer to nursing school and Naoki transfers to medical department from engineering department. They gradually have children and go back to Naoki's grandfather's house with the child.

It started out pretty well with the classic shoujo plot and went well until marriage. It is strange that Naoki should ignore Kotoko when he married her out of love. He changes in the end but for most of the episodes, Kotoko is the one who makes all the adjustments.

Kotoko's weakness is terribly annoying and irritating especially in the beginning. How can someone be so pathetic and useless?- a disgrace to the female race. However, as the story progressed, she did show some character development. She tried hard at nursing and became a good wife. She also works hard as a nurse and teaches us the very essential lesson- our roles at school and college are trivial in life. A ditz in school and college can become a respected nurse.
Her tenacity and jealousy are the good things about her.
After marriage, I felt that Naoki was the lucky one. Kotoko is infinitely selfless and tries to be a good wife. She makes too many sacrifices, another annoying point. She is not one bit demanding and this gives the feeling that the love always remained one sided. Naoki's feelings are never prominent. She is always afraid of losing him even after marriage and does nothing to annoy him. Only near the last episode does Naoki admit he loves Kotoko eternally. He admits that in the middle (before marirage) but gets submerged in his profession and starts ignoring her after marriage.

Story- 3/5 (genric)
Characters- 4.2/5
Illustrations- 4.4 (for anime), 3.2 (for manga)
Overall- 4.1



Kotoko's mother in law, father in law, Kin Chan, Chris, Matusmoto, her lover and her father were good and realistic supporting character. As Rumiko Takahashi's Maison Ikkoku , in this manga everyone had a happy ending, which is quite unrealistic (that's why it is shoujo).

The events were good and the story progressed well. The best thing about it was the fact that it progressed from school to college to marriage and children. This is what makes the story complete.

Also, the anime was much much better than the manga. I read the manga and watched the anime and the manga had terrible illustrations (very old) which made it hard to read on. The anime is also complete and the manga is not.

Even though the story is pretty genric and the characters are either too strong or too weak, it was good overall. When I finished watching the anime, I felt undescribably happy though I found it genric. It is like knowing the characters personally. Also, the good thing was that all the characters had a happy ending. The story felt complete since it progressed from school to children. Though the love was unrealistic, the story overall was realistic. The settings, supporting characters and the conclusions were realistic just like we see around us. The characters showed development, especially Kotoko which made it worthwhile. I would recommend the anime over the manga.

All the shoujo manga lovers will like this one. It is a shoujo manga classic. Only half of the story is about high school and college life (1-14 eps.), the other half follows Naoki and Kotoko's life after marriage.

Pros

Long timeline over which the story takes place
Realistic
Supporting characters
Happy ending

Cons

Hero
Cliched plot
Too much role of fate

Best bargains

DMP had launched an omnibus edition of Itazura na kiss manga which is a good bargain.

Anime

Soasianstyle.com sells the full anime for around $24 and charges $4 for shipping (15 days).

Books Review- Barbara Cartland- Lessons in Love



This is one of the generic governess novels by Barbara Cartland. The governess-employer romance semms to be one of her favourites since I have read five books from her with the same story. This one's a little better version of some.

Lady Marisa Berrington-Crecy (Marisa for short) inherited her father's hatred for the corrupt and heartless high society and is determined to reveal their low behaviour through writing a controversial book. She masquerades as a governess, Miss Mitton and eneters the house of Duke of Miverley, who has a lonely child.

Marisa tried to teach the child with love and patience and in no time becomes good friends with her. However, she finds the duke's lack of interest in his own child annoying and insulting. The Duke is always busy with ladies and seems to pay no attention to his daughter. Marisa's determination to write the book is cemented by the disinterest of the Duke towards his own daughter.

However, one unfortunate day, the Duke discovers Marisa's manuscript and in infuriated. When she enters her own room, she is shocked to see him standing there with her manuscript. He tells her that his life is loveless and such behaviour is only justified. He also confesses to her and they share a kiss.

The next day she decides to leave the Duke's residence and return to her house. Without informing the duke, she leaves which leaves him furious and he searches for her.
Finally, they are united. He marries her and his daughter accepts. They live happily ever after.

Yeah, pretty classic.

This one was quite the classic Barbara Cartland novel. The story picks up towards the end but starts out plain and boring with little interaction between Marisa and the Duke.
The love is passionate when it actually takes off.

The heroine is a little inconsistent and weak willed. She didn't go ahead with publishing the novel. She is swayed by emotions are becomes weaker progressively. Not very work oriented.
The hero was rather detached. He didn't show any feelings until the ending.
Supporting characters were not any speical. The child was too easily influenced but I guess that is okay because this is not a human drama and is a romance novel.

Overall, still a good read for something light.

3.6/5

Pros

Romance

Cons

Genric
Slow
Weak heroine

Best bargains-

Rare as all other books. Can be found only on some sites like ebay.com and flipkart.com.

Book Review- Barbara Cartland- Tears of Love




You must be thinking I am crazy reviewing one of Barbara Cartland's seven hundred+ books. This one is one of the best ones from her that I have read. I will obviously not review all her books but I'll be reviewing some.

Well, the story is a little different from her other books.

Canuela lives with her poor, sick mother and has no money to pay her mother's hospital bills. She is the beautiful daughter of an Argentine aristocrat who was banished from his country because of rumours that he had betrayed his own country. Her father died soon after the unfortunate incident and her mother fell sick. Canuela is forced to take on the job of a secretary to pay her mother's hospital bills. She hides her beautiful eyes under tight fitting black glasses.
She obtains the post of secretary to the famous Ramon de Lopez, one of the famous argentine busniessmen who abandoned her father in his hour of need. She hates him and makes it very clear that she is working for him only because of the unfavourable financial circumstances. She is always hostile towards him.

Ramon de Lopez finds her a very efficient secretary because she is well versed in many languages and produces instant and amazing results. He requests her to accompany him to Buenos Aires and she refuses directly. However, her mother needs to go to Switzerland for medical treatment and she is forced to take on the job.
Throughout the journey, there is a clash of egos and unfortunately, Ramon de Lopez sees her beautiful eyes without glasses once. He then requests her to not hide them at least in front of him.
On reaching Buenos Aires, Ramon de Lopez has a grand party to which Canuela is invited but she refuses directly saying that she is only a superior servant and his esteemed guests would not want to mingle with the likes of her. However, she secretly attends the ball.
The next day, he is abducted and she saves him from guerillas. She later decides to flee to England but he finds her, clears misunderstandings, and as ever, love conquers all. Happy ending.

What is different about this book is that the heroine is strong. This is something that is rare for Barbara Cartland. More importantly she is constantly strong. Some heroines become weak as soon as they find love, but Canuela always stays strong and egoistic. The mind duels between her and Ramon de Lopez and their clash of egos is quite amusing.

This is a classic novel of the hatred-turned-love type. I enjoyed it very much mainly because of the passionate hero, strong heroine and plenty of conflict. Even though I knew from the beginning that love would conquer all, I found it a good and memorable read. This is rare for Barbara Cartland novels. Her novels are too short to be memorable but I enjoyed this one so much that I read it four times and I can still read it more.

This kind of book will appeal to Hana Yori Dango fans and those who like happy ending romance books with a strong heroine.

The novel, like most of Barbara Cartland's works, had plenty of emotion and love is not forced or fake. It is every bit emotional, true and fulfilling. It is one of the very good romance novels.

The cover art was not very good. Barbara Cartland books usually have good covers but this was rather generic. Also, there was a little political talk which is not very romantic or appealing but it is minimal and never gets in the way of the story. In fact, that's one of the good things about Barbara Cartland- she doesn't give too much importance to historical setting and detail and her books can be understood by everyone.

Overall, a great book to enjoy. It is only around 188 pages, still, it is wonderful.

Pros

Characters
Conflict
Not generic

Cons

Cover art (what was the artist thinking?)

As for best bargains, most of Barbara Cartland's books are out of print (it is not easy keeping 700+ books in print). You can find it on ebay or flipkart.com since the indian publisher Rupa is reprinting the books. Here's a site that gives information on all her books.
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/c/barbara-cartland/tears-of-love.htm

Biggest bargains



Starting from the next post, we'll add the best bargains for each item we review. It is necessary to support singers, actors, mangaka and authors by buying their work. However, we are sometimes reluctant to buy because of the high price.

Below are some general sites where you'll find the best bargains for the items that have already been reviewed.

Dramas/ Movies/ Anime-

soasianstyle.com
This is by far the best site for buying subbed dramas and movies. The shipping (flat table rate) is really efficient and delivers the package withing four days. This site is especially good for buying dramas in bulk. The shipping rate decreases with every mark (eg.- $100, $200 etc.). This is also a good site for buying subbed anime. Anime are cheap as well and are delievered on time. Check out the quality of subtitles mentioned below each item. However, soemtimes these quality measures are inaccurate. I bought many dramas from here and all had good subs but Gokusen 2 had terrible subs that were beyond my comprehension. The grammar was messed up and so were the names. But I haven't found any drama site as good as this one mainly because of the efficient delivery.

Yesasia.com
Most japanese dramas don't have subs and therefore I recommend this site only to the people who understand japanese.

jpdorama.com
This has bigger bargains than soasianstyle.com but I haven't ordered from this site yet so order at your own risk. They sell subtitled japanese dramas, movies and some anime.

Animenation.com
Another site I haven't ordered from. Seems to be popular among americans. It sells manga as well but shipping rates are a bit high.

ebay.com
The international ebay sells everything and is a good site to buy drama, anime, music and manga. It has the biggest bragains among all the shopping sites on the internet. I haven;t ordered from here, again so I cannot comment on the quality of service.

Manga/books-

CD Japan.com
Though this site is famous for japanese music CDs, I find manga prices more affordable. It ships worldwide and sells everything at the japanese price. Mangas therefore cost 500 yen or around $5 per volume which is half of the normal price $10. However, it only sells manga in japanese and I recommend this site for people who can read japanese. It sells boxed sets at a cheap price.

half.com
This site mostly ships to America and is therefore recommended only for Americans. This is a sub site of ebay.com which sells used books. If you don't mind the quality, you can buy cheap manga ($0.6 lowest) from here. The site asks for additional shipping charges.

Flipkart.com
This site ships only to India and sells manga at sale. It sells various other fiction books at a very low price. Quality of service is good and shipping is free.

justmanga.com
animewild.com
Another site for US and Canada buyers. It sells cheap manga and anime. These two sitrs have lots of sister sites.

bookcloseouts.com
Mostly tokyopop titles (Fruits Basket). Only ships to America. Very limited range.

amazon.com
Amazon is especially good for buying cheap omnibus editions and boxed sets. Buying one volume is not worth it. The quality of service is poor for those not living in America and shipping rates are a bit high.

ebay.com
Best bargains can be found here. I have not bought anything from here and hence cannot comment on quality of service.

Music

playasia.com
Sells games and music CDs. Free Shipping.

yeaasia.com
High quality service and high efficiency. Once my shipment got lost but they re shipped it. The Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong versions of Cds are cheap. Free shipping on orders above I think, $60 or $80. Arrives in 14 days. A very good site to buy music from.

allanimedvd.com
A great site for anime DVDs, cosplay and music CDS- anime as well as jpop for ony $7.99. Though it has a wide range of anime, it is better for music Cds since they're sold at a big bargain.

ebay.com
Again, a site with best music bargains.

Other sites that sell cheap books are

albris.com

I hope this helps you out.

Have fun shopping!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drama Review- GTO




GTO was a very popular seinen manga in Japan. It tells the story of Onizuka Eikichi, a biker in a motorcycle gang who wants to become a teacher. He got a degree from a third rate university and ever since has joined the motorcycle gang. But he has only one dream- to become a great teacher.

The drama starts when his co-wroker tells him about a school that is hiring teachers. Onizuka hurriedly rushes to the interview. He fails in the interview and later goes to the school cafeteria where he meets the lunch lady who is the director.
While going back, he spots some students fighting with the interview pannel. They tell him to save them from these wild students and say that they'll grant him the job in return. They tell him that these students are 'trash' which infuriates Onizuka who believes that every child is special. Instead of the students, he hits the interview pannel and tells them about his beiefs.

The director, who is watching all this is impressed by Onizuka and to his surprise, gives him the job.

However, he is the homeroom teacher of the infamous 3-D that is filled with reckless, wild students who have no faith in teachers due to one of their teachers betraying one of their classmates.
Their previous teacher landed up in the hospital ICU and the one before that joined a cult. The director believes that somebody like Onizuka can make these troublemakers see light.

Onizuka meets Fuyutsuki sensei (Nanako Matsushima) with whom he falls in love. In real life, they fell in love during the shooting and married later. They have two daughters and are still married.
However, Fuyutsuki sensei has no interest in teaching. She wanted to become an air stewardess but failed the entrance. She just tolerates the kids for the sake of her pay. She finds Onizuka very easygoing and immature. She finds him disgusting in the beginning because of his lack of seriousness and his graduation degree from a third rate university. In the school, there are teachers who have graduated from Todai and other elite universities.

However, the students are not happy with him and from the very first episode start making trouble to get him out of the school. But, he in turn scares them off with his motorcycle gang.
One girl however, has a very troubled life at home with the relations between her parents breaking down. Onizuka goes to her house and helps her out. Fuyutsuki sensei also witnesses this heart warming event of Onizuka breaking down the wall between the girl's parents' rooms and her impression of him goes up.

The next day, the students create more trouble and her impression of him comes back to square one.

Onizuka's class boycotts him and he tries to get them back by winning the trust of each student. Fuyutsuki sensei is inspired by Onizuka's passion for teaching and starts taking her career seriously.

Their love life progreses quite well with hate turning to love. Fuyutsuki starts to see talents in Onizuka and is inspired by his dedication. There are some hurdles but these are cleared.

Story- 4/5
Characters- 4.5/5
Acting- 4.5/5
Overall- 4.2/5

One problem with the series was lack of seriousness. In Gokusen, the children are seen studying while here, they are never seen studying. That paints a rather hopeless picture of Onizuka's teaching abilities. Children don't come to school to fool around.

There was also too much focus on romance which is hardly required in a teaching, inspirational drama. This drama was much better in the manga form but the drama was good as well. A lot of rubbish has been cut down.

Takahashi Sorimachi's acting was the saving grace of this drama. His goofy expressions and serious acting in serious scenes was pretty well done. I can't believe that he has never received an acting award in his life when most of his dramas were super hit and he acts quite well. In additon to acting, he sings the theme Poison for the drama.

The best thing about this drama was the sentimental scenes. The ending of every episode is sentimental and heart warming.

The movie was quite good as well. I'll review it some other time. The special focuses more on Onizuka's relationship with Fuyutsuki sensei.

Overall, a good teaching/inspirational drama to watch. Gokusen and Dragon Zakura fans might like it although I liked both more than this. However, in manga form, GTO was better than both.
The drama is good but I'll recommend the manga over it. The drama is good for those who don't have the time to read the long GTO manga.
The movie is pretty good and I'll recommend it to anyone. The special was nothing spectacular.

If you're looking for inspiration, GTO is the thing for you. I'll recommend this and Gokusen and Dragon Zakura to anyone wanting to enter the teaching profession.

Pros

Takahashi Sorimachi
Story
Emotional scenes
Script
Complete with special and movie

Cons

Lack of seriousness in some parts where it is expected

Manga Review- Aishiteruze baby




Aishiteruze baby is a well known name among shoujo manga fans.
It is about the life of Kippei, a flirtateous high schooler who is saddled with the responsiblily of looking after his five year old cousin because her mother abandons her. Yuzu craves for Kippei's attention and gets jealous when she sees any girl around him. She plays around at the nursery and makes friends while constantly her memories of her mother are eroded and replaced. She starts forgetting her mother's face. Kippei in the meanwhile looks after Yuzu and goes steady with Kokoro, a girl in his class.

The series had a good idea but was too short. Kippei and Kokoro's feelings were not given time to develop and even Yuzu's feelings towards him were not allowed to develop. This manga could have easily dragged on for three more years. Kokoro's personality is also conflicting and she loves and hates Kippei at the same time. But the overall events balanced the manga.

The nursery events are one of the best in this manga. Yuzu's friends have some serious problems with mothers and sisters and she takes time to solve them. The brief appearance of Kippei's cousin was also nice. The nursery and side events were much more serious than the romance.

The romance is the biggest drawback of this manga. It keeps going back and forth. Kippei is not able to fix on one girl. Though he admits liking Kokoro, their relationship is presented only occassionally. Yuzu's romance is given importance but gradually transforms into sisterly love. In the end however, Kippei decides to live with Kokoro.

The nursery events and non-romantic events were more emotional compared to the romance.
The illustrations are good. The plot was good. It reminded me of Akachan to Boku (Baby and me). This plot was better than Akachan to Boku which had very young characters and was hard to relate to.

Story- 4.1/5
Characters- 3.8/5
Illustrations- 4.2/5
Overall- 4.0/5 (Note- overall score is not the average)

The ending was rushed up and I couldn't help thinking that the mangaka was in a hurry to finsih the manga. The end was rather abrupt. Yuzu's mother appears out of nowhere and Yuzu goes with her. The very last pages were emotional (when Yuzu sends a letter).

This will appeal to any shoujo manga fan and younger readers too. It is okay for a light read.

Pros

Story
Illustrations

Cons

Ending
Little conflict
Romance

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Selling Fiction Authors



Again, I decided to show some statistics. This list might be able to help you decide which author to try out.
Again, this list is borrowed from Wikipedia and is constantly updated. Be sure to check it out occassionally to keep in touch with the latest developments.
I am only mentioning the top ten authors. Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Erle Stanley Gardner, Stephanie Meyer, RL Stine, John Grisham and other authors rank below ten and hence are not mentioned.
I have provided a link to the wikipedia page at the bottom.
I am writing author name with sales and genre.

William Shakespeare 2 billion- 4 billion Drama and poetry
Agatha Christie 2 billion- 4 billion Detective, mystery
Barbara Cartland 500 million- 1 billion Romance
Harold Robins 750 million Adventure
Georges Simenon 500- 700 million Detective, Maigret
Sidney Sheldon 370- 600 million Thriller
Enid Blyton 300-600 million Children's
Danille Steel 500-600 million Romance
Dr. Seuss 300- 500 million Children's literature
Gilbert Patten 125- 500 million Adolescent adventures

So, those are the top then best selling writers. You might have heard most of the names. I've done an author review of Barbara Cartland. You can check it out if you want.
Writers like Charles Dickens, Jack Higgins etc. were not included because of no proof of sales.

Who doesn't know Willian Shakespeare- the king of drama? His books have been popular ever since I can remember. His works are taught to English graduate and post graduate students. Even people who have not heard his name have heard of his famous works like Romeo and Juliet (I bet there's no one(almost) who doesn't know the name of this play), Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer's Night Dream, Macbeth and many others. While all his plays are tragedies, he was an equally famous writer of comedy.
He is a little outdated and his language might seem archaic but he truly deserves this top position because of his great story writing. Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate love story. His other works are equally witty and popular. He has given birth to numerous popular saying through his work and is without doubt the most influential writer ever born (up till now).
While his language might seem a little flowery and overdone, I recommend this writer because his stories are filled with substance. Who can write such epics but William Shakespeare?



The second position, to the surprise of some, is currently occupied by Agatha Christie. Her sales is more or less recorded and though she has not been very influential, she has been famous and commercially popular. Her work 'And then there were none' sold over 100 million and remains the best selling mystery novel. While Sherlock Holmes is very popular, Poirot and Margret and popular too. Her works are igneous masterpieces that can be understood by everyone. Though she starts off very slow and boring, the conclusion to her mysteries is always mind blowing and unexpected. Every book of hers is unique and doesn't copy plots. Agatha Christie had one very big advantage over Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown and that was the universal appeal of her novels. The solutions to Sherlock Holmes mysteries are scientific and are sometimes not understood by common people. Agatha Christie's novels don't contain any scientific work except 'cyanide' which is a poison. She presents all the clues to the reader and doesn't try to hide anything. Her plotting is wonderful and she does each detail perfectly.
One very big problem I find with her books is that they are very very slow. She wastes time in idle chit chat and petty conversations. Though these are clues, they make her stories boring sometimes but the ending is worth the patience.

Barbara Cartland is my favourite author and one of the earliest romance authors and one of Britain's most popular celebrities. Vogue called her the 'true queen of romance'. Her books again, anjoy good slaes because of universal appeal. Her books are not to girly, though they are aimed at women and contain no adult content and can be read by anyone. Most Barbara Cartland readers these days are teenagers. She has written a lot of books and most are just a derivation of the other. While Barbara Cartland lacks orignality, she makes up for it with her writing style which is easy to understand and emotional. Her romances are generally categorised as historical. She doesn't give too many historical details and complicate issues. Generally, her heroines are weak and heroes are perfect. In fact, Barbara Cartland was the first one to invent this formula which most romance writers follow these days.
Her books are very short and don't contain too many side characters. They are the kind of novels that can be finished in one or two hours and leave the reader satisfied. Her novels are very emotional, something that romance writers these days are not able to write. Her kind of love is pure and fulfilling. You can read her complete author review on this site. I did it last month.

I have never read anything by Harold Robins in my life but I have heard his name. He is the first american author on this list. Check out his Wikipedia entry to find out about the kind of books he writes.



Georges Simenon is another writer I haven't read. He seems to be a popular French Writer. If you have to say anything about this writer, please add it in the comments. He writes detective fiction.



Sidney Sheldon is up next. This list was updated recently to include his name. He is really popular in America for his cliffhanger suspense/ thriller novels. Sidney Sheldon's novels contain strong adult content and so are not advisable for young readers. He is very popular as a master storyteller and is one of the pioneers of thriller. His stories are engrossing and can't be put down once you pick them up. He is known for his use of cliff hangers at the end of every chapter. His novels are about strong women. He believes that men cannot live without men and women are strong characters. Most of his fanbase comprises of females. He is known as one of the best contemporary novelists. He has written only around nineteen books and most of his fans have read all of them (I know many of them). He is always striving for perfection. 'Mediocre' is a word that doesn't exist in Sidney Sheldon's dictionary.

"I try to write my books so the reader can't put them down," he explained in a 1982 interview. "I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she has to read just one more chapter. It's the technique of the old Saturday afternoon serial: leave the guy hanging on the edge of the cliff at the end of the chapter."
-Wikipedia



Enid Blyton is the most popular children's writer. She has written lots of famous children's series like Secret Seven and Famous Five. Enid Blyton's stories are mostly good memories for all those kids who grew up reading her stories. Her stories vary in genre and theme but are aimed at children.



Danille Steel is the only living writer on this list as of 2010. She writes romance novels. I have read some and I don't find her anything spectacular but my cousin is crazy about her. A good writer for romance fans. Some of her works are not romance but she generally sticks to romance. She is still writing and her books still top the bestseller lists.


Dr. Seuss is another writer I haven't read. He is a children's writer so many kids might have grown up reading his books. One of the good things about being a children's writer is that your novels, if they are good, will always be a part of children's hearts. People are influenced by what they read in childhood so maybe being a children's writer is satisfying (just pondering). He is known for his imaginative characters. National Read Across America Day is held on his birthday in his memory.

The last writer on this list is Gilbert Patten. I again, haven't read his books though a lot of people have been recommending his books to me. They are hard to find. He is a writer of dime novels. He is famous for his Frank Merriwell series.

The writer right after him who just missed the list is Leo Tolstory famous for his epic War and Peace. He is the best selling russian writer (where is Anton Chekhov?).

So, that's all for today. Many writers as mentioned above have not made it to this list due to disputed sales.
I haven't read many of the writers in this series and that is a signal to start reading more. I hope you'll enjoy reading this writers. I have read only six out of ten writers. If you have any suggestions or comments on this post, please don't hesitate to write.

Happy reading!!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_fiction_authors

Anime review- School rumble season 1




School rumble is a high-school romance/comedy anime based on a manga of the same name by Jin Kobayashi. It tells about the comedic daily life of Tenma Tsukamoto- an eccentric high school girl with a major crush on the smartest guy in school- Karasuma. However, Hariyama Kenji- the biggest delinquent has an incurable crush on Tenma who just doesn't seem to notice it. Their misunderstanding about each other and the failures they have to endure to reach their true love make this anime highly entertaining.

I didn't actually LAUGH at anything, but I was amused. The anime is lighthearted and good for removing stress. The characters (main and side) are lovable and original. Tenma's friends and sister are good but Harima's landlord or somthing (I was unable to ascertain how she was related to him) has a really interesting personality. Incidentally, her face and apppearence seem to resemble that of Rina Toin in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (That's a great anime too, in case you want to watch it).




The above picture is Mermaid melody pichi pichi pitch.

The one thing I found slightly annoying was how Tenma didn't seem to notice Harima's feelings at all in the beginning. The most annoying part of the story was undoubtedly Karasuma's character (he is plain weird. How diid Tenma like a guy like him?)

School rumble is a good anime to watch to revive spirits and have a good time.


Ratings
Story-4 (The anime didn't have much of a story, though)
Characters-4.3
Graphics-4.2
Voice-acting- 4 (Tenma's voice was so cute and Mikoto's voice was really great too)
Direction- 4

Pros
Interesting characters
Great humour
Lighthearted and amusing
All the voice-actors did a great job

Cons
KARASUMA!!
Tenma didn't notice Harima's feelings
Some episodes are a drag

Meg Cabot- Insatiable




Insatiable is a new novel released by Meg Cabot. It continues on the vampire-human romance trend which seems to have a reached a high-point with twilight. Honestly, I am fed up of people trying to do all 'supernatural' just because one book became a hit. They all don't have to copy Stephanie Meyer. Even Stephanie Meyer has moved on to sci-fi.

When I heard that Meg Cabot was doing a vampire novel, my reaction was something between shock and disgust. Meg is one of the most entertaining and original writers, why does she also have to copy the twilight trend? The first line of the synopsis was interesting, though- Tired hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.

Meena Harper is the protagonist of this novel. She is a modern, chic urban screenwriter behind the suuccess of a Tv soap called insatiable which is something about a mother and daughter. She lives in a nice apartment with her unemployed brother. Her neighbor is a hard-core socialite whose husband does real estate business. Her neighbor also annoys her with constant atttempts at match-making. She has a friend Leisha who is a hair-dresser. But everything about Meena is not ordinary- she can see when people will die as soon as she meets them. When she tries to warn then, they think she is nuts. But her predictions almost always come true.

The first chapter described her life. The second chapter shifts the scene to Romania where we meet professer Lucien Antonescu who is the prince of darkness (king of all vampires, son of Dracula). He is rich and spending time teaching European history to students in college. Girls have a crush on him due to his being so handsome (I wonder why everyone thinks vampires are handsome. Seriously, if a vampire came and stood before a human, anyone would think that such a person is a corpse). However, his peaceful life is disrupted by a call which says that some vampires have been killing human girls. Since it is his duty to protect the secret of vampires, he rushes to Manhattan to find the culprit. There he meets Meena Harper in a party and a one-night-affair becomes love. This is so unrealistic. It is impossible for someone to fall in love within a day (or night). Yet, it happens so frequently in romance novels.

You can read the rest of the story yourself. My analysis was that the story had potential. Meg's writing style is great. If she had written twilight, I can guarentee that it would have been better. Stephanie Meyer's style is too dry for a genre like romance.



Anyhow, Insatiable starts off the tension very well and maintains the tension very well too. Towards the end, however, the story starts to deteriorate. Suddenly, without any coherent reason, Meena decides that she doesn't love Lucien, a vampire-killing organisation appears and a vampire war ensues in which Lucein turns into a dragon! (This one was completely confusing).

The ending was terrible. Meg Cabot usually has happy endings but this one was too vague for me to understand. Meena suddenly tells Lucien that she doesn't love him anymore. Also, Lucien's character is inconsistent throughout the story- he is mysterious in the beginning, he becomes overly sentimental in the middle, starts getting violent after that and in the end, he just looks like a weak loser. Meena is also very inconsistent.

If you don't like ending which are too vague to be understood, please don't torture yourself by reading Insatiable. However, I would like you to read this book and decipher the ending for me. It is not such a bad read overall, just something unexpected from Meg Cabot.

Ratings-
Story-4
Plot-4.2
Characters-4
Writing Style-4.5

Pros
Starts off well
Clifffhangers
Unique writing style

Cons
Inconsistent characters
Undecipherable ending
Characters take decisions without any rationality in the end
Another vampire romance (when will it stop?)