Book Review: A Better Life by Isobel Scharen

A huge thankyou to the Publishing Push for sending me a review copy of this book.

I love being sent stories that I wouldn’t often pick up because it gives me an opportunity to explore new genres. A Better Life is a story that focuses on a young Singapore woman named Ada who not long after getting married is thrown into a world of struggles, chaos and heartbreaks.

I believe that a book that makes you feel for the characters and can bring emotion to the reader is one of the most difficult things an author can write, its easier in film because you are able to see exactly what the director wants to portray but when it comes to writing its not easy to make someone feel emotional just by reading. I commend Isobel Scharen for being able to write such a powerful story that is guaranteed to make you feel something, for me it was sadness for Ada and her struggles and the things she had to sacrifice in order to keep herself and her family safe.

I really cannot fault this book at all, I was hooked from the beginning, I will admit that I enjoyed the story more at around the half way point because that’s when things started to get really serious and we begin to see how badly the war affects the main characters and the lengths they have to go to just so that they see them selves survive the horrors of the war and how it changes their lives.

I felt that the romance was very well done in this story, often books come across as a little cliche and cheesy but this feels like a real relationship, the dialogue between characters in the book is also very realistic, this helps the reader to build connections with the characters which again will help the reader to feel emotions in the text.

I have to recommend this book because it really is one of the best I have read in a long time, I often go for more lighthearted and well known stories but now and again it is nice to read something different, I didn’t give away too many details in this review as I would like to encourage people to go and read it, below is a link to the UK amazon shop where you can pick up a copy.

Thanks again to the Publishing Push for sending me a copy of this book

I hope you enjoyed this review of A Better Life by Isobel Scharen

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Princess Mononoke (1997) Review

915XveGbfxL._SL1500_

Princess Mononoke is a Fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

d9epzdr-022f96cb-86de-4422-9b29-31c89fc753b6

After an Emishi village is targeted by an evil spirit for attack, the evil spirit is killed by Ashitaka the last surviving Emishi Prince, He is unfortunately cursed after touching the demon, this grants him unbelievable strength but at the cost of it eventually taking his life. He is advised to head to the land of Nago to seek out a cure.

Forest_Spirit.PNGecd00bcd219f69edb839939cfd72658d

Ashitaka is advised by a Buddhist to find the forest spirit, the forest spirit is a fantastical entity that is a deer by day but can transform into a night-walker at night time.

36

Ashitaka finds Iron town which is ran by Lady Eboshi, Lady Eboshi leads the workers of iron town in a war between them and the gods of the forest, making her a sworn enemy of Princess Mononoke aka San

San

San is the protector of the forest, she loves the forest and has the mannerisms and personality of wolves due to being raised by them since a young age.

maxresdefaultprincess-mononoke-wolf-pup-boar-gods-wallpaper-1000x500

What I find most interesting about this film is not the fantastical world of the forest or the creatures that reside there but it is simply the fact that for a film that is so violent and has strong morals there is no villains. In fact I would argue that everyone in this movie is a villain in some way. The two residing enemies in the war each have good reasons for what they are doing, and while Ashitaka did get cursed he had to kill a spirit to get that curse in the first place, no one in this film is completely innocent not even Mononoke, she and her wolves have a body count and those that they kill do not always deserve death so really you will have to watch the film yourself to decide which side you are supporting.

597527-bigthumbnail

I love the visual style used in this film, the spirits are particularly epic and wonderful to look at and study, you can tell that the artists had a lot of fun creating some of these characters, the colours used in the film are fantastic and the palette choice really helped to emphasise the nature and surrounding areas represented in the movie.

The voice cast was very good all around, some recognised names would be Tara Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver and Jada Plinkett Smith.

I really am a big fan of this movie but I must disagree with it being one of Miyazaki’s best work, if I’m being honest while it really is spectacular I feel it isn’t very well paced everything happens so quickly in the movie and it is a lot to take in but this is really is a fantastic film that may just find a special place in your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Princess Mononoke

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Nausicaa of the valley of the wind (1984) Review

Welcome to an unusual Christmas series, this year I have decided to discuss the Studio Ghibli feature films collection, some of these films I have already discussed on this website many years ago but I feel its time to update those older reviews. The reason I have decided on this series is because while they don’t have anything to with the holidays I find myself watching them every Christmas and I think they will be more interesting than regular Christmas movies so without further ado lets begin with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

open-uri20150422-12561-1bn6jog_66f93b70

Based on a Manga of the same name Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a fantasy-science fiction movie based in a post apocalyptic world. The film was directed by Hayao Miyazaki a true legend of film making and animation. This was Miyazaki’s second film after The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979

1_wrdzyZry-R3A1lJZ4Gt46w

A thousand years after an apocalyptic war the land has been turned into a toxic jungle with giant and deadly bugs roaming around and causing trouble for the humans that remain.

images

Nausicca the Princess of the Valley of the Wind has the ability to befriend various animals and creatures, she is able to calm the angry bugs that are causing trouble for the humans and her main goal is to find a way for the humans and the bugs to exist side by side in peace.

The Vallley of the Wind is one of most peaceful places left on earth, the rest of the planet are at war with eachother and fighting to gain power and resources after the effects of the war, unfortunately one of these of these other lands decides to attack the Valley of the Wind and kills Nausicca’s father leaving Nausicca to try and keep peace and prevent any other person or bug from being needlessly killed.

 

images (1)

I really enjoyed Nausicca’s character, she is a great warrior who also has a plan of action when she needs too, shes emotional and cares a lot about the people and creatures around her but she wasn’t my favourite character in the film that would have to be Lord Yupa a swordsman and secondary father figure to Nausicca, he’s voiced by Patrick Stewart in the English dub and that might be why I like him so much, other noticeable names are Shia LeBouf, Uma Thurman, Frank Welker, Jodi Benson and Mark Hamill.

nausicaa-8-1200x647-1024x552

Shell

I love the art style and colouring used in this film, its dark and gritty with a style of animation that looks like a mixture of anime and a comic book, the rough design of the bugs are my absolute favourite part of the film but I enjoy the beauty of the world in which this film takes place especially the jungle with its plants and trees that are imaginative and full of creativity and are one of the films most standout features.

Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind is an excellent film that takes a world of wonder and throws into land of a chaos, its a tragic movie that shows the effects of humankind and its greed and selfishness that ultimately causes nothing but heartache, corruption and pain to the world that we often take for granted and Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind shows this in ways that will be remembered forever making it a very important part of the history of animation.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

 

 

Civilization 1-3 (1991-2001) (PC) Review

Civilization is one of the most popular strategy games of all time, the series was created by legendary game designer Sid Meier who had already made a name for himself in the game industry before Civilization was released, one of his most popular games was a game called Pirates, I am planning to play through and review all six games (six games as of now) in the main series but with there being so many of them and not too many differences between each version we will be taking a look at three games per review.

Civilization (1991)

256px-civilizationboxart

We begin our look into Civilization with the original game which is often referred too as classic Civ, the goal in Civilization is that you are a world leader who is essentially in complete control over a continent (you choose a race of people before starting the game) I chose to play as the Zulu’s meaning that I was playing as the world leader of Africa, the goal of the game is to try and build as many cities as you can while also being able to maintain the safety and happiness of your people.

frederick_pc_civ1

You will often find that other world leaders may visit your cities offering to make trades of knowledge or money and far too often they will start a war if you refuse these offers, I had particular trouble with Frederick the world leader of Germany, he would often make a peace offering if I gave him knowledge, not much later he would offer to keep peace between our two continents, this kept happening multiple times before I had enough and took over the entirety of Germany so jokes on him.

civ1-3

The game is a lot more complex than it may seem, first of all its your responsibility to see that your continent and people are able to evolve over time as the game takes place over hundreds of thousands of years, you can actually play the game for such a long time that you end up in the space age which is very cool, during the course of the game you will need to send your wise men to research new topics which will allow you to build more useful items such as defenses which surround your cities, the ability to attack over seas and more powerful armies, the game will often give you historically accurate information making it a fairly useful learning tool.

The original Civilization is a great game and a classic that will always stand the test of time, a lot of DOS games were not capable of producing very good sound so the lack of music and audio is not something I feel is fair to complain about, graphically the game is fairly impressive for a DOS game but some parts of the game are much more visually appealing than others but again that could be DOS limitations but I suppose we will see if this improves in the sequel.

7/10

Civilization 2 (1996)

After enjoying the original Civilization I really wanted to enjoy the sequel just as much but to be honest I couldn’t get into it, I realize a lot of people really like this game but I just found it to be really boring and not very interesting at all, for some reason they removed a lot of the small animations the first game had and chose to stick with just text to commemorate you on your achievements, they did however add live action cut-scenes with dialogue if you chose to speak to the advisers or the high council, i couldn’t find any images of this but I will provide a youtube link below showing some of the cutscenes

 

Another thing that was a great addition was the much easier to use cheat mode, in the original game you could use small cheats to activate certain features including showing the entire world map, in this game you can access all cheats from a click of a mouse and as much as I dont condone to using cheats myself i am sure that some people would enjoy giving themselves a full treasury,unlocking all skills and other special unlockable features.

civilization2-1

Graphically the second game is a massive step up compared to the original, with windows being able to produce more colours and detail the world map is more appealing and more details are shown when you upgrade your cities, I found it very difficult to move my troops around the map, it felt as if the keyboard was confused because every-time I tried to move a player they would usually  head off in a different direction and this made it very difficult for me to try and plan my moves appropriately, the game includes the ability to use online multiplayer but I didnt test this as its a very old game which wont run on modern operating systems but hopefully a steam remake will get released at some point as I would like to give this game a second shot with multipayer included

Not a terrible game but its wacky controls and fairly boring design choices made it no where near as enjoyable as the original

4.3/10

Civilization 3 (2001)

After my disappointment with the last game thank god I enjoyed Civilization 3, first of all this installment brought back everything that I missed in the second game, it had great animations, a full cgi opening cutscene, lots of choice for land customization and you can finally play as either males or females for each race in the game, not only that but as well as the usual Civ game mechanics Civ 3 tops both previous installments by adding online multiplayer (that works) and challenge modes.

One thing I didn’t like about the gameplay in Civ 3 was the lack of player support on the lower difficulty settings, the other games both gave you advisors that would help guide the player step by step through the matches and I found that the support although complicating did help teach me the main mechanics of a Civ game, in Civ 3 this was still available but the player needed to seek out the advice by speaking to each advisor individually and it was very daunting

The graphics are outstanding, the game uses an art style that looks as if you are playing on a painted canvas, as per usual the game is shown from a birds eye view and the visuals really help it seem as if the player is looking at a physical world map, the animations from the NPC’s are smooth and simple which honestly is all you need in a game like this

the soundtrack is very good here, I complained that I was annoyed with the lack of ingame music in Civ 2 but in Civ 3 the music is relaxing to listen too and is not on a constant loop so you can enjoy a large variation of music tracks during your long Civ games.

Civilization 3 is the best Civ game out of the first three in the series and for what it provides it is worthy of its £2.99 steamprice, however this is not the best Civ game for new players, I give that title to the original for its simple design and much more useful advisors who advise the player without needing to be asked.

7.8/10

I had a blast playing these old Civ games, out of these three which is your favourite and do you agree with my opinion on the games so far? Hopefully it won’t be long until we are reviewing the next three games but until then.

Thanks for reading

you can contact me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Silent Night (2002) Review

MV5BMTcxMjUwODU3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk3NDgzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR51,0,214,317_AL_

Elizabeth Vincken and her son Fritz seek shelter in a cabin in the woods during World War 2, two American soldiers invade the cabin in hopes of finding a bed for a fallen comrade, its not long until three German soldiers turn up and try to kill the Americans but some how Elizabeth convinces all of the soldiers to leave their guns outside and spend Christmas together.

hqdefault

When I heard that this was based on a true story I was genuinely shocked, the plot seems very far-fetched and you would think it almost impossible that enemy forces in World War 2 could ever become friends even if it is Christmas.

Silent-Night-2002-film-images-6bfa0155-5e97-4879-84cd-1412ff53b93

Like I said almost impossible, this apparently really did happen and if that is the case then this movie being bad would be quite an insult to all of those involved in the real life historical event.

PDVD_019

Luckily this film is fantastic all of the actors do a fairly decent job of expressing convincing emotions of sadness,fear and happiness, the movies only actress Linda Hamilton who plays Elizabeth does an exceptional job in her role as the caring mother who hates the war and only wants peace.

Throughout the movie all of the soldiers slowly warm up to each other and they slowly start to realize that even though they are fighting for different sides of the war all of the soldiers share many similarities.

Silent Night is a wonderful movie, it is surprisingly charming and family friendly for a film that carries such a serious subject matter, very young viewers will likely find the film to be uninteresting and boring but anyone who enjoys a good drama or has an interest in History will surely love this film.

With all 12 Christmas movie reviews finished, this brings Raggle Fraggle Reviews to an end until 2016.

Thank you for joining me on what I consider be the most successful year for the website.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year.