Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: Rain by Amanda Sun

Book Description:

Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.

Reviewer's Copy: E-ARC

Source: Amanda Sun (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

I was totally inlove with the first book, Ink. I had high expectations for the sequel, Rain, and I'm happy to say that Amanda Sun delivered well in the second book. Aside from the ever present Japanese elements in the story, which I love: the cultural manifestation, the mythology and the dialogue and language. Reading Rain gave me the pleasure of being culturally immersed in an exotic setting while enjoying the story.

Katie continued her life as a gaijin in Shizuoka, stumbling over cultural obstacles, cramming for her studies and struggling to help Tomo with his unstable powers. I have grown emotionally attached to Katie. I have felt her confusion, terror, love, pain, sadness and jealousy. Rain was a roller coaster of emotions for me, thrilling and daunting. 

Her relationship with Tomo was beautiful but bumpy - there were always obstacles along the way in the form of the ink's assault and the aftermath of its disasters, Shiori, the overly clingy childhood friend of Tomo, Jun's friendship and Katie's discovery. Amanda Sum developed their relationship well, going through all the motions - getting back together, making up, getting jealous, going through problems (both normal and supernatural) and protecting each other.

Tomo, the Dark Kami prince, was struggling more than ever to stabilize his powers and keep the ink under control. It broke my heart to see him so fragile and out of control, despite all the measures he has gone through. He didn't have a choice at all, with his fate, so much so that the suffering pulsed underneath the pages. With this suffering comes a dark kind of terror. There were times when I had to flip back to a certain scene and reread it again to digest the eccentricity of it. On the other hand,Tomo also had a soft, normal side. He was sweet, thoughtful and filled with surprises. Charming and mysterious, Tomo will continue winning the hearts of readers.

Jun was in the picture more. This was something that I wanted to see in the sequel. With Jun's presence comes explanations and more details into the Kami mythology - what was legend and what was truth. I found him pleasing and charming overall. There were moments when I wanted Katie to be with Jun instead. It was like seeing the perfect future for someone, a perfect what-if. It made my heart ache even more.

Rain was as beautiful as it was exotic. It was a breath of pure, fresh air in the field of YA mythology. With its strong romance, horrifying and hair-raising Kami-related incidents, and adrenaline-pumping scenes, Rain has become one of the most intriguing fantasy/paranormal novels for me. It bordered on horror when Tomo struggled to control the ink. Fans of Anna Dressed in Blood might enjoy this for its otherworldly ink-splattered scenes, enthusiasts of Japanese mythology will devour this book and finally readers who are looking for a true love story (the kind that is balanced) will adore this book. I highly recommend this!

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Out and about: Book Signing with Jenny Han!


Out and about is a feature here on Fragments of Life for events, book launches and movie adaptations.

For the fourth Out and about, I’ll talk about meeting the fun and awesome Jenny Han.

The Basics:

Who:


The author is: Jenny Han!
The Organizer is: National BookStore.

What books:



When: June 21, 2014, afternoon

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 4

How aka details:


Throughout the event, I got to meet Jenny Han and get to know her more as a writer and as a person. I learned the following:
  • Jenny met her co-author Siobhan in David Leviathan's class (grad school). They became friends, hit it off and eventually started Burn for Burn.
  • When two people are writing a novel, they tend to divide the work per character or per chapter. In Jenny and Siobhan's case, the characters appeared so often in every chapter that they needed to know all of them well enough. They worked together on the book by focusing on the events that they are most excited about.
  • She has written a lot of books but so far she has not run out of ideas. She is a genius and actually has 3 novel ideas buing in her head as of the moment.
  • She was asked if she could write a spin-off for Jeremiah, and why. She flat out said no, because for her Jeremiah was left in a good place and I think she was satisfied with that.
  • Jenny Han likes nail art a lot. She goes to a certain Japanese nail art salon in New York. She also keeps a blog where she posts her nails: Just Another Mani Monday (yeah, like the song.)
  • If she could write herself into one of her books, she would be the nanny in The Summer I Turned Pretty. /li>
  • Quote from Amaterasu Reads: When asked if she was Lara Jean, who would be her Top Five celebrity crushes and which of them will be Peter Kavinsky for her.
    One is Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood. Daryl from Walking Dead. The cop from The Killing, he's a Swedish model. Jaime Lannister from GoT, even without the hand. Jo In Sung and recently, Seo In Guk in Reply 1997
    .
  • My question for Jenny Han: For you, what makes a contemporary novel stand out? Would you branch out into the NA genre? Jenny says that whether a book is contemporary or fantasy or science fiction, it all boils down to these things: the universality of emotions, growing up, pain and suffering. Also, her novels are leaning towards innocence and youth. But at the same time, she believes that YA can also be sexy. In regards to NA, it is an in-between genre. Teens read adult novels and adults read YA. Anybody could read anything and there is this "crossover."
  • In Jenny's books, we see a lot of sister-to-sister dynamics. In her recent book, Lara Jean and Margot reflected Jenny's relationship with her sister. "You always listen to your older sister."
  • It is definitely healthy to write love letters. It really depends on a person. But for Jenny, it could be a way of coping and letting all your feelings flow out of you and onto paper. It's when you explore your deepest feelings.




Signed books (I wasn't able to get a copy of To All The Boys as it was sold out and neither was I able to spot a copy of Fire with Fire - paperback) and shirt!



Each one of us got a surprise ARC of Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han, the last book (I think) of the series. Big thanks to Jenny and NBS team! I didn't think this kind of thing could happen twice. Thanks to National Book Store for the awesome event!
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Wings by Elizabeth Richards

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 12th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Following the cliffhanger ending of Phoenix, Natalie finds herself separated from Ash and unexpectedly reunited with her parents, including the father she thought was dead. But she can only think of Ash. She hasn't heard a word of him since she and Elijah were brought to the underground headquarters of the Sentry Rebellion. But she vows to find him.

Ash, meanwhile is back in Black City; it's the perfect place to hide from the Sentry government. But not for long. He won't give up on Natalie or bringing an end to the terrible reign of Purian Rose.

A pulse-racing end to an exciting series.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Elizabeth Richards (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Warning: Do not read this review if you have not read Black City.

Elizabeth Richards did it again. Black City and Phoenix captivated me and led me deeper into my obsession with Ash, Natalie and their unique story world. Wings took my hands and did not let me go, opened my eyes to the truth and made me fall in love all over again.

The world as they knew it was on the brink of war. Everything was either in chaos or coated in fear. There was a stronghold of rebels nestled within Gallium, the non-human races were looking for avenues where there voice could be heard and Workboots were persistently being hunted down and even more determined to start a revolution that would end their suffering. Wings had cinematic action, a dash of gore and raw violence, and slow-motion-effects and racing narration. The other half of the story was also unraveled, the side of the antagonist, - plans, plots and principles.

Richards presented a better, complex version of her characters in Wings. Ash and Natalie went through all the trials, obstacles and issues in the first two books. After all the loss, pain, hurt, betrayal, sadness, numbness and exhaustion, they have been driven to a state of peace, the calm before the storm, before eventually being thrust into the now-or-never-situation: trying to stop the dictator, Purian Rose. From. Wing separated to finally being united, and tried once again. The swell of emotions and the blast of ideas came not only from the main characters but from the entire cast. A this point, every character had a voice and a constant presence in my head. I knew them well enough that I have come to expect their reactions in every scene. Aside from this, I have completely explored the worlds of all races at this point: Sentry, Workboots, Darklings, Lupines and Bastets.

The narration also varied this time around and came from three points of views: Ash, Natalie and Edmund. Exploring Ash and Natalie's past, worlds and thoughts gave me a balanced look on the story. As a Sentry, Natalie was privy to governmental and elitist information. Meanwhile Ash was one of the outcasts and hunted Darklings. He was in the lowest rung of society. Edmund's narrative were carved out from the past - flashbacks sandwiched between chapters. It was interesting to get a look at the history of their world and the events that lead to the present.

Ash and Natalie's relationship deepened even further, but instead of the usual Twinblood-Sentry-race-traitor-situation, their relationship molded into a more mature version, in the sense that they were both future-focused, revolution-considering and pondering over every decision thoroughly. The romance took a bit of a backseat as they focused on the rebellion but that did not mean there were no sparks. There were constant fireworks, as their connection remained intact. Going through hardships together strengthened their bond and I just love seeing it manifest throughout the story.

The latter part of the novel was intense and quite cinematic. Richards managed to pull off the slow-motion-scene, that I was mentioning above, just before zooming fast back in track. I only had a few pages left to read and yet I was treated to surprises, both good and bad. The ending was particularly striking for me, as it marked the completion of one of the major issues and endeavors that started in Black City.

Wings is the epic ending to my favorite dystopian romance series. Pulse-racing, shockingly jaw dropping, edge-of-your-seat-read, and heart achingly romantic, Wings will satisfy readers who are hungry for revolution/dark reads and romance. I highly recommend this to post-apocalyptic and dystopian enthusiasts.

Rating:



5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: A Beauty so Beastly by RaShelle Workman

Book Description:

Genre: Fractured Fairy Tale
Book 1 in the Beastly Series
Release date: July 3, 2014

About A BEAUTY SO BEASTLY: “For your vanity, your cruelty, and your cold unfeeling heart, a curse I leave upon you . . .”

What happens if the beauty is also the beast?

The stunning Beatrice Cavanaugh is considered American royalty. She has everything except the ability to love. Cursed on her eighteenth birthday, she becomes more beastly than ever, having a newfound craving for raw meat, and an undeniable yearning for the night. Bitterness is her only companion.

After accusing a maid of stealing, a disgustingly kind and exquisitely handsome guy named Adam shows up asking Beatrice to drop the charges against his mother.

Infuriated by his goodness, Beatrice vows to break him. Destroy him. Make him hurt the way she hurts. So she agrees. On one condition: Adam must take his mother’s place as a servant in the mansion.

Because Beatrice won’t stop until he’s more beastly than she is.

Special Note: A BEAUTY SO BEASLTY will be available for 99 cents until its release date on July 3rd! Then it'll go up to $2.99. So pre-order now!

About the Author


RaShelle Workman is an international bestselling author. She writes fractured fairytales with bite and young adult science fiction that's out of this world. RaShelle likes cherry pie, movies, family adventures, and chocolate. If you want to get on her good side, send chocolate. RaShelle's sold more than 500,000 copies of her books worldwide. Sleeping Roses, Exiled, Beguiled, and Dovetailed have foreign rights contracts with a Turkish publisher.

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Giveaway

RaShelle, who is so generous, is giving away $25 Paypal cash. Join the giveaway below:


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