Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

SEMI-SPOILERY things ahead? You have been warned!

Movie Poster  from HypableMovie Poster from Hypable

It’s an adorable movie. Not only that, but I’m amazed at how much story it manages to cram within the 90 minutes it had. And there’s just too many feelings I have about this movie… Continue reading

Am I happy? (and yes, Chapters 2 coming soon!)

Am I happy?

A friend asked me what my goal was, and asked if I was happy.

I think I can answer this the same as I answered her then.

I am happy now. I’m not satisfied with all aspects of my life, but I’m happy where I am now. Career wise, friends wise. Perhaps even relationship wise. I’m happy being single. I’m being me, and for me, at this moment, it is adequate. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin again. Learning to live for myself.

Still so much to improve. So many things to fix. So many goals to reach.

Life is a journey. At this point, I’m happy where my road is. I’m learning new things about myself every day (such as it takes me at least 2-3 false starts before I really get cracking on something) and that I’m horrible when I’m HANGRY. My body’s undergoing changes too, and it’s fitting the life I want to live.

So more good food, more exercise, and most importantly, more sleep. That’s one of the few aspects of my life that I can improve on right now, and which I intend to. With that, good night.

Prose-ACK! Quick Update and a new fic!

Quick Prose-ACK CAFKL Update: Thank you to everyone who came and bought our books! They’re all sold out. :) Chapters 2 will be published by end of this week, I still need to clean some bits out. Thank you very much for your support!

And as a tiny bonus, here’s a quick ficlet I did for the 15-Minute Ficlet challenge on Dreamwidth: Continue reading

Chapters 1 Goes On Sale @CAFKL

Chapters 1: Shorts by Naoko Kensaku

Chapters 1: Shorts by Naoko Kensaku

UWAA its happening! Chapters 1: Shorts by Naoko Kensaku, aka my first doujin, goes on sale tomorrow at the Comic Art Festival Kuala Lumpur. It’s a compilation of Chapters 1 from the following projects:

  • Arista
    A woman and a teenager have a conversation at a bus stop.
  • Suara
    Chased by wolves, Suara fights for her survival.
  • Shakti
    Sometimes you remember more than you want to.
  • Evgenia
    Picking up the burden of Kingship was never easy.
  • Breaking Things Apart
    Who knew a name change would be so difficult?

Stories range from sci-fi to fantasy. Each copy is RM6. If you purchase Tales Of Vaticanny Palace, written by my booth partner DMJewelle, the total will be RM10! We’re Prose-ACK at B17:

Prose-ACK Booth at B17, CAFKL

Prose-ACK Booth at B17, CAFKL


Do drop by and support us! Plus, buy both books and get a random fortune! Samples here.

Life Update and a Promo!


Been sick the past few weeks. Last week was the worst; I ended up taking two days of sick leave because I really couldn’t stand it any more. As it turned out, a mix of extra sleep (plenty of it!), modern medicine and just general relaxing with friends did a lot to help me recover. The week after Japan has been an insanely busy one. This wasn’t helped by the fact that my flu got worse after I came home. Still, at least I feel functional now and no more “I want to stay home and curl in my blanket.”

Car also went to the hospital. Mom and dad took him to the paint shop while I was away, and when I got him back, he was gleaming! Sadly, his engine whined at me and he went into the hospital for an emergency top overhaul. I’d been delaying that for months and now I paid the price whoops!

Let’s see… the extender cable on my Superlux HD318F died. As in it’s showing the “you have stressed out the wires and therefore we will not longer work unless you adjust us just right” issue I’ve had with all my other earphones. Yes, yes, I’ll start carrying a bag for my headphones. I can’t stand them dying on me. *flails*

Also, Tabitha, my tablet, has been lagging quite a bit lately. I haven’t cleaned up the apps yet, so that’s on my next to-do list when I get the time. It’s odd that she’d be this slow though, considering her specs. Her battery life is still awesome though. Benefits of keeping her docked with the keyboard (or always “married” as Wind_Goddess says) all the time.

Aiks, that turned into a tech update instead of a life status update. Well, in a lot of ways, my tech updates mirror my life update.

Fitness-wise, I’ve stopped exercises temporarily, mainly because of health. Going to kickstart my planned routine again tomorrow most likely. Depends on whether body feels up to it. My legs were feeling really weak just now at dinner when I was out with Rincredulous and the others.

New routine, if it works, should help with strength training and extending stamina. Basically it’s an alternate day plan with an hour’s run on one day, then a 30 minute Nike+ training session the next day. I’ve completed two sessions so far, and it seems to be working. I fell sick with the flu JUST before my trip, and it was alright while I was in Japan, then got worse when I came back to Malaysia. So I haven’t trained for almost two weeks.

I’m quite glad that I don’t have any runs coming up soon, but it also means that I don’t really have a drive to push myself to train. Did I mention that work is kicking my ass? Because it is.

Speaking of work, on the creative side, I’ll be selling my words at the Comic Art Festival Kuala Lumpur happening next week at the Annexe, Central Market. It’ll be happening from 7-8 June, 2014, 10am to 6pm. Goddess help me and Dimmie. :D We’re operating a booth called ProseACK! and will be at B17. Our friends Milk Tea and Monsters will be next to us at B16, selling an anthology called “How Was Your Day?” by 8 different artists. ;)

Dimmie will be selling a collection of her Vaticanny Palace stories (which, if you like irreverent and funny divinity stories you must get!) while I am hopefully going to compile a series of Chapter 1s and put them up for sale.

In addition, you’ll also be supporting a bunch of youngsters who self-publish their own comics, books and other creative stuff. Stuff that *I* am looking out for include Veleries’ Echo Comic and whatever the heck Maxsterism is going to be doing at B14, and not to mention Maikii at B13!

So clear out that weekend, and check out us out!

[Review] Dead Man’s Drive by Michael Panush

Disclaimer: I received this book as a free copy from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an unbiased review. All the opinions below are my own.

Cover of Dead Man's Drive from Goodreads.com

Dead Man’s Drive is one of those books I treat as a filler; its cover and storyline reads like a B-grade film. Not classic, but something pleasant to while away the time. This is pretty much how I read the book after it was given to me. Despite the slimness of book (I finished it at 242 pages, on my mobile) there’s a lot packed in this book.

The plot is simple: Undead demons and an unscrupulous developer are trying to take over a small town (La Cruz). The town’s self-appointed, heavily-armed Donovan Motors are the town’s only line of defense. The cast, while entertaining, read like a typical misfits gang trying to do just good.

There’s Roscoe, the sentient but amnesiac zombie. Betty Bright, the college girl with a talent for the occult. Felix, the child genius who was orphaned in Nazi Germany. Crazy Wooster Stokes, Zoots Suiter and Angel Rey. All of them are led by a man simply titled, “the Captain,” whose military background makes him an excellent leader, or so they imply.

The action starts fast and furious. We’re introduced to the cast quickly and simply. There’s lots of bang bang bang and shooting and car chases. Then we’re introduced to the main plot with almost no breather… which introduces a host of other characters.

This brings me to an important point: If you’re reading Dead Man’s Drive, it’s best to switch off your brain and just enjoy the ride. There are some plot holes, some character development that’s a little sloppy, and loose ends that are tied up a bit too easily, but overall, it’s a fairly enjoyable book.

What I didn’t quite like about the book was how some issues were brought up and dealt with. It felt too fast, too out of character, and was very much tacked onto the plot. The tie between different characters also threw me for quite the loop (Captain’s leadership, Roscoe’s rage, etc). There was also that weird want to but not quite romance subplot.

If books could be mindless, guilty pleasure flicks, then Dead Man’s Drive is right up there. I like how they left space for a sequel; there’s more to explore in La Cruz and the writing is quite alright. I can also forgive the plot. More work needs to be done on the characterisation, but as this is a first book in a series, I think it might be worth checking out.

TL;DR review: Popcorn read with plenty of action. Writing is decent, and fairly enjoyable at times.

Tips for Japan


Heading to Japan for the first time? Here’s some tips!

Internet Connection


If you’re a social media addict like me, or you plan to rely heavily Google Translate and Maps to navigate, then you’ll want to get a Mifi-like device for your travels. I find these to be far better to data roaming overseas, as they are dedicated machines. The two services I’ve used and can vouch for are:

Japan-Wireless.com
They’re cheap, reliable, and their customer service is really, really good. I asked them questions about their wireless service and they answered me in quite a reasonable fashion. Additionally, I made a miscalculation with my monies and could only pay the following month. Japan Wireless was willing to hold my order for me via a Paypal invoice until I could get them sorted out.

Service connectivity was pretty good, considering that I was pretty much in the city most of the time. The modem held up well, and was quite alright even underground. There were 3 girls and 4 devices on at any given point in time, and the Internet connection was pretty good.

In fact, I could even do an impromptu Google Hangout to show people back home what things looked like from where I was. It was awesome, though the Internet did kind of choke a bit. That though, I chalked up to data connection speeds at home. xP

eConnect Japan
This was the other service that I used last year. It was quite good, though a little pricier than Japan Wireless. I used it because both Marauderz and Tyzro recommended them to me. It’s of a similar make and model like Japan Wireless, but it uses WPA security instead of Japan Wireless’ WEP.

If it helps, I Ingressed on Tabitha with it last year. Internet was pretty good, though location could be blocked due to the tall buildings we faced in Osaka.

Conclusion:
I recommend this heavily if you’re doing the “free and easy” thing and want to upload on the go. It’s also great for talking with friends and family back home.

Note though, that most hotels and hostels DO come with free WiFi, so if you’re the patient type, you can just upload everything back in the hostel.

Edit: You may also want to download Navitime app to help with public transport and finding free wifi!

Where to stay

I’ve stayed in a variety of places with differing costs. There are some places that I love and recommend, like Hostel Mundo in Kyoto and now, Vessel Inn Sapporo, Nakajima Park in Sapporo. The prices may not be cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Hostels are great if you’re the kind who’ll bring your own towels and don’t mind cleaning up after yourselves. They are also good for meeting other people (I’ll always remember that mother, daughter and grandmother family whose daughter was traumatised by deer in Nara. Beautiful people. But yes, deer).

Do your research. Find out from your friends what their requirements are, and work from there. Note that not all hotels and hostels will have bidets, so remember to ask. Some places may have WiFi only in the common areas. Others may have coin laundry machines for you to wash your things (priceless during summer!) and so forth.

For me, I’d pay a premium for good location. I lucked out with Vessel Inn Nakajima Park this time around, because not only was it RIGHT NEXT to the station, but it was also just a few minutes away from Susukino where we had our dinner most nights, and near the concert hall. In spring, the cool breeze makes walking back very pleasant.

Do your research on the places you intend to go. Tripadvisor is a great starting point, but don’t forget to Google the name of the hostel or hotel and see if anyone else wrote something else. You should also contact the reviewer if you have any questions; most reviewers (including yours truly) are usually quite happy to help, as long as you’re nice about it.

Book early

I cannot emphasise this enough. Especially for Malaysians, keep an eye out for Airasia Specials and prices. Osaka trips can go as low as RM800, including tax, for a round trip. Nagoya right now, can be as low as RM600. That said, please check your dates BEFORE you go. Springtime will always be expensive, but with a bit of forethought and planning, you can stretch your money’s worth.

There are some times when it’s not a good idea to visit Japan, such as Summer (the temperature is the same as Malaysia’s but with much lower levels of humidity, so it is VERY possible to dehydrate yourself) and Golden Week. The latter is simply because it’s when the entire country goes on holiday, so everywhere is packed and costs soar.

For Malaysians, I’ve noticed that the exchange rate has been steadily decreasing in our favour, so keep an eye out when you’re converting money. In my experience, the time right before the Tōhoku Earthquake anniversary is when the yen’s usually the lowest for the year, so you might want to try to convert your money then.

Other Misc Stuff
If you plan to take the subway within the city, either invest in an IC card, such as a Suica (Tokyo) or Kitaca (Hokkaido) or get them from your friends. They’re basically prepaid subway cards that let you tap and go with public transportation. The best part is that they’re usable ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, so a card you got in Hokkaido WILL work in Tokyo, for instance.

Note though, that if you want to collect the 500 yen deposit you’ll need to get it back from the state you got it (aka you can only collect your Kitaca deposit in Hokkaido and not in Osaka, for instance).

Which brings me to another point: In Kyoto, if you’re going around on the buses, get the daily pass. It’s cheaper in the long run than paying the 230 yen per trip. The JR Rail Pass is EXCELLENT if you’re planning to hit up different townships, and in Osaka, the Unlimited Pass is a must.

Spouse of Edit: Neon suggests Kansai Thru Pass if you’re concentrating on the Kansai area.

I hope this helps! Enjoy your trip!

What does a kiss taste like?

What does a kiss taste like?
Soft, gentle, undemanding
A chaste kiss
To say Hello.

What does a kiss taste like?
Hot, hard, fierce
Unrelenting desire
Passion unleashed.

What does a kiss taste like?
Hints, teases
A memory made
Changed forever.

What does a kiss taste like?
Skin on skin
A tug, a pull
An intoxicating emotion.

What does a kiss taste like?
Dominance, submission
A battle of desire
Passionate days.

What does a kiss taste like?
A beginning, an end
A greeting, a farewell
A journey.

~~~~~

Been meaning to write something simple for some time. And then today, that line just popped into my head. What is the meaning of a kiss? Is it in the lips? Is it in the body language? Is it, in the grossest sense of the word, the saliva transfer?

It’s probably all this and more.

A kiss.

Such an innocent thing. So much meaning. Much impact.

Ok I’ll stop with the doge thing. XD

It’s more intimate than a hug I feel. And more private though. But it’s a gentle reminder. Of being loved. Of being cared for. Of having an intimate bond.

A bond that might not break no matter what.

I like hugs. I love kisses.

I think it’s mainly because I don’t have that much opportunity to kiss. So the hugs help make up for it. No, I take it back.

I love hugs.

They’re awesome. And it’s more comforting than a kiss. A kiss, no matter how you look at it, is brief. It doesn’t happen for long. But a hug?

That lasts as long as you need it to. Three minutes. Four. Even an hour. Holding someone until they feel comforted. Until they feel someone else loves them the way they do.

I’m blessed to get both. Well, not the intimate kind of kisses now, but the others, yes.

I’m blessed to be loved.

More importantly, I’m blessed to be able to love. Even if it doesn’t seem like it to the receiver (sorry, I admit I’m somewhat a tsundere.)

Thank you, for loving me.

CAFKL Promo!

Dimmie and I will be at the Comic Art Festival Kuala Lumpur (aka CAFKL) this June! Come and support us by buying our words! CAFKL will be happening at:

Venue: The Annexe, Central Market
Date: June 7 – June 8, 2014
Time: 10am – 7pm

What will we be selling? As mentioned, we’ll be selling our own original works. What are they?

Dimmie’s going to be putting out an anthology of her stories, called “Tales from the Vaticanny Palace.” These will be based on her Vaticanny series. They’re mainly about this god named Finnegan and his hapless assistant Sedna. This winning combination is a fantastic barrel of laughs and sarcasm. Some of my own favourite stories from this series include the Radio episode, aka welcome to the vaticanny place, which is a fantastic parody of a certain radio show.

You can check out some more interesting snippets here.

As for me, I’ll be publishing a series of chapters called… Chapter 1. These are basically going to be, literally, chapter 1 of stories I’ve written so far. Some of them are probably going to be stuff that was rejected by other anthologies. Some will probably be first person view and so forth. The only thing is that they will all have at least 2 chapters written. If you like the first chapter, there’ll be a link to read the second chapter, and so forth.

Keep an eye out for our stuff, and I hope to see you all there!

I’m going to CAFKL with Dimmie!

Prose-ACK!
Come see me and Dimmie at CAFKL, 7-8 June, The Annexe Gallery, Central Market!

Dimmie has convinced me to join her in opening a booth at CAFKL. It’s supposed to be about Comic Books, but somehow they are accepting written words as well. I’ve submitted the idea of a short anthology called First Chapters as the thing I want to sell; it’s basically going to be first chapters of stories I’ve written. There’ll be a link, I think, at the end of the chapter, or maybe a QR code, to lead to the site and the second chapter of the story.

If people like it, they’ll need to do either write a comment and/or write a kudos. I’m not sure which. And then I’ll continue writing hahaha.

I’m not sure people will even like the stories enough to comment. That said, I might include some choice Copywriter’s Chronicles in there too. We shall see.

Book is tentatively priced at RM15, though I’m looking to bring it down to at least RM10. It’s definitely going to be in black and white. I’m going to do what the bookshop auntie suggested I do; print one copy, photocopy the rest. It’ll probably be stapled together too.

And then there’s the cover to think of. OMG the cover. What do I do with that? Should I remain with a simple typography cover, or should I get someone to help me design it? Do I use pictures or..?

Oh, and the book has to be PG 13, which means I can’t slip in some of the more “adult” works. xP Ah well. Need to figure out what stories I want to put in too.

WHAT HAVE I AGREED TO?

The good news is because I tend to write in long form, I don’t usually have a problem with first chapters. It’s my end chapters that I have issues with, and I’m thinking this might be a really drastic and crazy way to force myself to finish stuff.

I’m not even sure what kind of market I’m writing for. My taste in fantasy literature is very niche, and it’s very specific. What I do know is that my stories are going to be female centric, which will be… interesting to say the list.

… Dear Foobar, you do not have to start playing Born Legend when I am writing about this. Please do not get my hopes up.

I’m pretty sure this is going to be a bust, but that doesn’t mean I won’t at least try to make a nice book. I do admit I’m going to go the lazy way, but I’m going to ensure at least that it will be something people might like.

Which means I probably need to expand my pool of beta readers. ^^;

I do eventually hope to sell this as an ebook, but we shall cross that when we come to it. My brain is still trying to process the fact that I allowed myself to be talked into doing this. It’s a sort of unreal moment, to be honest.

First chapters… there’s quite a few I have. I want to vary some of my styles though, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. The worst thing that could happen, I think, is that people will complain that my story is flat, one-dimensional and they wasted their time and money buying it.

But hey, I need them to at least buy the book first! That is really my greatest fear; that no one will buy the book. Aaaaaaa!