Blog Tour: Rain by Amanda Sun (Guest Post)

RAIN Blog Tour

Hello everyone! For my stop on the RAIN blog tour today, amazing author Amanda Sun discusses her world building process for the much-awaited sequel to INK! Isn’t that great? Okay, I won’t keep you hanging. Amanda Sun now on the spotlight!

 

World Building for RAIN

The Paper Gods may take place in modern-day Japan, but that doesn’t mean world building doesn’t come into play. Even when you write something set in a real-life place, you have to make a lot of decisions. How much is true to reality? What are the limits of your magic system? How did your characters come to have the abilities they have? And just how do you add in cultural info without info-dumping or creating a landscape that’s too foreign for readers to follow?

When I was designing the world for The Paper Gods, I did a lot of research into the old stories of the kami. I read the Kojiki, an 8th-century text recording the early creation myths. I read a bunch of Japanese fairy tales, and visited Japanese schools. I interviewed high school students about daily life, slang they used, and activities they liked to pursue. And I referenced the journal I kept while I was an exchange student living in Osaka. Together, all this research produced the bare bones for The Paper Gods.

A lot of the history of the ink is where I got very lucky. In INK, Katie visits Itsukushima Shrine, a shrine I had the opportunity to visit while in Japan, and one that’s widely known for its famous Shinto Torii. It seemed like a good cultural symbol to bring into play. At the same time, Itsukushima Shrine was linked to the kami Susanou, which gave Katie a chance to ask questions about the origins of Kami. I researched Itsukushima and found out that Taira no Kiyomori had spent a lot of money restoring the shrine after it had burned down. Then I researched Taira no Kiyomori, and found out that he was plagued with horrible nightmares at the end of his life, before he finally passed away.

Nightmares? Sounds like Tomo. So I twisted the history just a touch to say that he and Tomo shared the same horrible Kami nightmares, the same dark fate.

In RAIN, I talk about another historical figure who was involved with a lot of the shrines in Shizuoka City—Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was kidnapped as a child by a rival family, and not long after, both his father and one of his captors died suddenly. Ah! Another event that could be twisted just a touch into Kami myth. Instead of building a world entirely, I took the world that was there, and connected it in new ways to create a hopefully believable history for the Kami. Samurai families colliding with the emperor’s descendants? Put the ink into the situation and see what happens.

In a similar way, I wanted Tomo’s drawings to come to life, but I didn’t want to give him too much power. It’s not much of a story if he’s god-like and unstoppable. So I made the drawings unstable. They don’t react the way he wants them to. They come after him and his loved ones. In this way, I was able to build a strange world but still have limits to make things interesting.

I really wanted The Paper Gods above all to be a fun and exciting trip to Japan. I know a lot of readers who are hoping to visit Japan someday, or who have been and want to relive the experience. I hope that The Paper Gods helps to transport you there, without hitting you over the head that you’re in Japan. I try to focus on little details—the humming of vending machines, the food Katie and her friends bring for lunch, the sounds of the school bell—instead of larger scale things like, for example, Tokyo Tower in the distance. I hope the effect is a more subtle world built around them, instead of shouting the location over the plot.

At the end of the day it’s about story. You need to create a world that collides with what the protagonists want and need. It has to restrict them, to go against their goals. I hope you’ll find this thought useful when writing your own worlds ^_^

 

Thank you very much Amanda for the wonderful guest post! Now we all know why the world of the Paper Gods series is all kinds of extraordinary. 🙂 The RAIN blog tour continues tomorrow at Fragments of Life. Don’t miss it!

 

GIVEAWAY!

Please click on the link below and you’ll be directed to the Rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US/Canada only.

 

*For the full RAIN blog tour schedule, head over to Amanda Sun’s Tumblr page

P.S. We Love You, Jenny Han!

June 21, 2014, a Saturday filled with smiles, laughter, and delightful moments. When National Book Store announced that New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han is coming to Manila, I was one of those people very excited to meet her in person. I enjoyed reading her latest novel, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and was so keen to learn more about it. I am privileged to have been invited to the bloggers forum (prior to the public signing) where my fellow book bloggers and I asked Jenny Han questions about writing, her books, celebrity crushes, etc. She responded to every question with utmost sincerity and great enthusiasm! All of us present at the forum had so much fun listening to Jenny speak. It was a truly fruitful event!

After the forum was the public signing at National Book Store Glorietta 1 where Jenny Han’s fans waited patiently for her. Their energy buzzed throughout the venue which was so exhilarating to witness! I really felt their love and support for Jenny Han. When it comes to book events like this, Filipino bookworms never fail to amaze me.

Thank you so much to the spectacular National Book Store for bringing Jenny Han to the Philippines! It was such a pleasure meeting her in person! Thank you also to Jenny for visiting our country. We hope to see you again someday! 🙂

Jenny Han

Q & A with Jenny Han at the Bloggers Forum

Audio recording of the Q & A: listen to ‘Jenny Han in Manila’ on Audioboo

For Jenny Han’s message to her Filipino readers, head over to The Lifelong Bookworm’s Facebook page!

Pics with Jenny Han

With the sweet and funny Jenny Han! 🙂

Blogger selfies_JHforum

Selfies with blogger friends!

Bookish events will always be momentous to us. They brought us closer to each other and we’re eternally thankful. 🙂

Group photos from Kate

Photos grabbed from Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs

Public signing

The crowd at National Book Store Glorietta 1 for the public signing

Signed books

Signed books! *flails*

Did you attend Jenny Han’s book signing? Tell me about your experience in the comment section below!

Book Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved BeforeTitle: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Publication date: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

As one of my highly anticipated contemporary YA novels this year, I literally snagged a copy of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before as soon as it’s available at our local bookstore. I read the book in three days and that was so far my fastest reading time. Did I like the book? Read my review to find out:

What fascinated me to read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is its unique concept. I’m a fan of old-fashioned things like love letters. I appreciate handwritten messages because the emotions feel more truthful. Moreover, things like those exhibit the time and effort a person has put into writing the love letter. The fact that you have in your hands the heart and soul of the person—as embedded on that piece of paper—makes it special.

Although I find the story a bit simple, I still enjoyed reading it. The romance, well, I wouldn’t really call it romance because it’s just “for show”. Lara Jean Song and Peter Kavinsky are a couple for reasons that are somewhat shallow and irksome. But interesting things happen halfway through the book as Lara Jean and Peter get to know each other better. They become comfortable in each other’s company, which is a good start in establishing a connection with someone. There are a few moments in the story where Lara Jean and Peter just have fun being silly and doing random stuff. They are so amusing!

Lara Jean’s sparkling wit and genuineness make her a commendable character. Her pleasant and effervescent aura attracts readers right away. I also liked Lara Jean’s great concern toward her Dad and little sis after big sister Margot leaves for college. I was not smitten with Peter Kavinsky at first. His I’m-cool-and-popular attitude made me expect him to be the kind of guy that regularly falls in the “elitist” category of a high school social hierarchy. But Peter scratched off that notion when he and Lara Jean started to be “together”. The way he relates with Lara Jean’s little sister, Kitty, is so endearing! He’s a good friend and is like a big brother to her. And the little things he does for Lara Jean such as giving notes, helping her bake cupcakes, and buying her donuts are totally heart melting. Turns out that Peter K’s a sweetheart after all!

An ideal novel for diversity in young adult literature, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before greatly captures a Korean-American family’s lifestyle. As an Asian, reading something like this makes me proud of who I am. The story illustrated nothing but authenticity of the family’s relationship—their closeness, daily routine, and the proper upbringing of the Song girls. Everything’s believable and purely honest.

Jenny Han’s writing is straightforward—nothing fancy, just real. Her words are thoughtful and the sincere tone resounds until the end of the book. The author’s writing style significantly contributed in shaping the personalities of the characters, making them appear natural and easy to connect with.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a light contemporary YA deliciously glazed with charming cleverness and warm fuzzy feels that leave you craving for more.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

A New Chapter Begins

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TODAY!!! *throws confetti*

Chapter 23 of my life is a memorable one because it has a lot of incredible highlights—graduating from grad school, getting my first job, and being a book blogger. Joining the book blogging community is the most rewarding decision I made when I was 23. Book blogging helped me grow as a writer as well as opened doors to wonderful opportunities that I’ll treasure for all time. I’m grateful to book blogging for making my Chapter 23 a joyful ride. Of course, the ride wouldn’t be exciting without the people I met along the way.

MASSIVE THANKS TO:

Fabulous authors!

Tamara Ireland Stone—Your lovely books made me fall in love with time travel! Time Between Us and Time After Time are eternal faves. Team BenAnna forever! Thank you so much for being a great friend! Honestly, I still can’t believe that I’m friends with you! 🙂 Our Twitter conversations about music, books, movies, and writing are delightful moments. I hope to meet you in person one day!

A.G. Howard—You’re one magical woman that I look up to! Thanks for making me believe that magic exists in real life. The Splintered series opened my eyes to the beauty of the extraordinary. Your writing advices really motivate me to not give up on writing. I hope one day I’ll get to share my magic with the world too. 🙂

Elizabeth Richards—Liz! You’re special because you’re the first author that I really became friends with on Twitter. I connected with you right away because we both love Harry Potter and owls! The Black City trilogy amazed me big time. You’re a phenomenal writer and I’m a huge fan of yours! If I meet you in person, expect a tackle hug from me! 🙂

Tiffany Schmidt, Emery Lord, and Kristin Rae—You have no idea how much your stories made me laugh, cry, smile, and swoon! They touched my life in remarkable ways. Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories. I’ll never forget the valuable lessons I learned from reading them. 🙂 

PH YA Book Bloggers—Kate, Kai, Louisse, Sab, Dianne, Precious, Leslie, Lyra, Kazhy, Nicole, Michelle, Dani, Geraldine, Chyna, Maricar, Kayla, Algel, Hazel, and Nina! I feel so blessed to have you as friends! Every bonding moment with you is a blast! I LOVE YOU, GIRLS. ❤ To the other PH book bloggers I talk to on Twitter and met in person (there are a bunch of you!), thanks for being a part of my book blogging adventure!

International Book Bloggers—Every single one of you that I interacted with on Twitter, thank you!!!! You guys are awesome! I hope to meet you all someday!  

Publishers and publicists:

Megan and Sarah from HarperCollins, Cassie from Disney-Hyperion, Tina from A&C Kids UK, Olivia from Hot Key Books, Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA, Macmillan Children’s, Random House Kids, Tor Teen, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley—thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to review amazing books! It’s such a pleasure working with you!

National Book Store—Chad, JB, and the rest of the fantastic NBS team, my heartfelt appreciation for the recognition and privilege to become a part of something priceless. It means a lot for a book blogger like me! Working with you is perpetually spectacular!

Fully Booked—To Lucy, I deeply appreciate your help in finding the books I want/need and for being every bookworm’s incredible virtual friend! To Kuya Jay, Kuya Joeven, and Jane (FANTASTIC THREE) and the other staff of Fully Booked Alabang, many thanks for the superb assistance and for being very friendly! Your store is my happy place!

A BIG HUG TO EVERYONE!

This girl’s ready for Chapter 24. Will you still be with me? I sincerely hope so. 🙂

 

Lots of love,

Jesselle

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern [Review]

saywhatyouwillbanner

Say What You WillTitle: Say What You Will

Author: Cammie McGovern

Publication date: June 3, 2014

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 352

Source: ARC from publisher (Thank you, HarperCollins!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked

Synopsis:

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

Moving and full of insight, Say What You Will is a thoroughly brilliant gemstone of a novel.

Author Cammie McGovern spun an enlightening and profound story of two teenagers characterized by their imperfections. Born with cerebral palsy, Amy struggles to communicate verbally, hence, the use of a talking computer that serves as her voice. On the other hand, Matthew has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is the outcome of his irrational fear of hurting people. Matthew worries that if he doesn’t do things right, unfortunate things will happen. That greatly affects his reasoning and the way he sees things. A beautiful friendship ensues between Amy and Matthew as they try to live a normal life while dealing with their internal conflicts. The support they extend to one another strengthens their bond and breaks the walls that obscure their real selves. Amy and Matthew can be who they truly are—flaws and darkest secrets bared—when they are together. Eventually, romantic feelings develop but Amy and Matthew couldn’t express what’s in their heart.

Honest and eloquent, Say What You Will pulls every heartstring, opening a gateway for emotions to flow into the soul. The elaborate conditions that both characters are in magnified those emotions in ways that punch immensely to feel everything that Amy and Matthew are going through. In spite of their disabilities, the characters are exceptional. Amy is intelligent, loving, and compassionate. Although she has cerebral palsy, Amy is sensible and mature for her age. These I consider her strongest traits. Most of all, Amy accepts people and their flaws with all her heart. While Matthew is a sweet guy who cares very much for Amy and makes her feel special in every way.

There’s an unexpected occurrence in the story that completely stunned me and I believe it will change the way you see people with disabilities. So better watch out for that! 

Say What You Will is a powerful eye-opener to the realities of cerebral palsy and OCD. Readers will understand beyond any doubt what it’s like for people who suffer from the aforementioned disorders. Stories like this are very inspiring. It makes people realize that the imperfections we human beings have are not limitations to living life to the fullest. No matter who we are and what we are, we have the privilege to live the life we desire.

Rating:

4/5 stars

For the blog tour’s full schedule, please click on the tour banner.