Showing posts with label Japan Weekend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan Weekend. Show all posts

Jul 28, 2015

Japan Weekend Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Katie is getting used to her new life in Japan. She's moved there to stay with her aunt after her mother passed away. Life in Shizuoka is very different from life in America and it requires a lot of adjusting. Katie's aunt decides to send her to a Japanese school. Katie has problems with the language, so she has to take a lot of extra lessons to keep up. The food in Japan is different, she has to wear slippers in school and her blonde hair stands out wherever she goes.

Fortunately she makes friends pretty quickly. At school she also meets Tomohiro. He's aloof and cold at first and Katie can't seem to get through to him. He's great at kendo (a form of fencing), so he's the school's sports hero and a lot of people are fascinated by him. Katie's drawn to him and can't stay away. They share something strange. Tomohiro has a way with ink and even though Katie isn't gifted at drawing with it the ink is what connects them. Because of Tomohiro Katie finds out more about the Kami, powerful descendants from an ancient god. What does this have to do with Katie and Tomohiro and are they both in danger because of it?

Katie is very strong and she goes for what she wants. She's still sad about losing her mother, but she's resilient and soon she embraces the Japanese way of living. She likes the food, she makes some great friends and staying with her aunt isn't so bad. I loved learning more about Japan through her eyes. Katie soon falls in love with Tomohiro. He's like a magnet and at first she doesn't understand why exactly, but she keeps following him until he accepts her presence. She does this in a determined way, because she knows that beneath the tough and cold exterior there's a kind and caring guy who likes her back. 

Tomohiro's best friend is in a gang and he keeps dragging Tomohiro with him. He's trouble and he doesn't like Katie. She wants Tomohiro to stay safe, but he's always there for his friends. This means he often gets into fights and I couldn't help feeling bad for him as he clearly doesn't like that life very much. Things keep getting worse, but Tomohiro stands by his friend. Tomohiro's drawings are fantastic, he can't draw in the presence of anyone besides Katie, because of what happens when he's using ink. I loved reading about his talents. I liked that the drawings were coming to life and that ink played such an important role in this story. I'm now so curious to read more about Katie's connection to the ink. I can't wait to find out what will happen in the next book of this series. I'm definitely intrigued and love Amanda's Sun's writing.

Japan Weekend Shop Review: Suze Loves Locca Enamel Jewellery! & Giveaway

I love Locca Enamel Jewellery. The jewelry Yukiko makes is absolutely stunning.

Yukiko is a trained Japanese enamel artist who's currently living in Wales.

She lets her international experiences influence her work which makes it even more unique and beautiful.

You can read more about the enamel tradition and the process of making it on Yukiko's about page.

I'm the proud owner of two beautiful necklaces and I can say from experience that Yukiko's work is gorgeous. She's a skilled artist and I'm in love with my jewelry.

I've received so many compliments about it.

I love the beautiful vibrant colors and detailed shapes of the enamel in combination with the silver. It's fantastic.

When you hold it in your hands it's even more beautiful than on the photos.

Yukiko also uses a special way of packaging the jewelry and it comes with a bit of information. I loved finding out more about the Japanese traditions.

Yukiko's customer service is excellent. She's kind, she ships quickly and she's always there to help.

She has a wonderful blog with beautiful photos. It's about food, traveling and Wales.

Check out this fantastic Etsy store!

Enjoy admiring Yukiko's beautiful work and have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive an amazing prize:

This fabulous copper pendant with frosted glass will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend: Kawaii Shop Japan Giveaway

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a lovely kawaii package from Kawaii Shop Japan. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Week Book Review: Shadow by Amanda Sun

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Katie Greene has lost her mother. She had a fatal heart attack and now Katie's all alone. Katie has to get through the funeral and then there's the matter of where she's going to stay. Her family doesn't live anywhere near and her mother's friend can't let her stay forever. Her mother's will is clear, her aunt will have custody. Only that would mean moving to Japan and Katie isn't ready for that yet. Japan is her destiny though, but how will she be able to make a life for herself there when she doesn't even know the language?

Yuu Tomohiro has horrible nightmares. They're too vivid to be just dreams and he knows that at some level they are real. He loves to draw, but horrible things are happening when he does. He's got a darkness inside him and he's afraid to lose control. There's a dangerous shadow, something that haunts him. He can't control what happens when he's around. That is why he keeps people at a distance, it also means he has to push his girlfriend Myu away. He likes her, but if she comes too close she'll be in danger. What's happening to him?

Shadow is the first part of Amanda Sun's The Paper Gods series. It's a prequel that introduces the reader to both Katie and Tomohiro. It's a great way to get to know them a bit better. Katie is really sad, she misses her mother terribly. She's lost everything she holds dear and there's no going back. Tomohiro tries to keep people safe, but his friends keep managing to get into trouble and they ask him to pull them out. He's someone with a good heart who pretends to be insensitive and cold, just because he wants to protect everyone. He thinks there's something awful inside him. After reading this prequel I couldn't wait to start reading Ink. I immediately liked Katie and Tomohiro and I was curious to learn more about the shadows. I think Shadows makes Ink (the first full length novel) a better book and can't wait to read more of the series. Amanda Sun is a good writer and I love the world she's created.  

Jul 27, 2015

Japan Weekend Book Review: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Amaterasu has lost both her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo. They died when the Americans attacked Nagasaki with an atom bomb. Amaterasu feels guilty because she sent Yuko to the place where she died. Yuko had already arrived while Amaterasu was late. Hideo was at school when it happened and most of the pupils passed away. Because they lost so much Amaterasu and her husband Kenzo moved to America straight after the war. 

Amaterasu is living in a retirement home and she's truly alone. Kenzo is no longer alive and there's nobody else who's close to her. When one day someone who's badly burned shows up on her doorstep and tells her he's Hideo she doesn't believe him. The past is complicated and Amaterasu doesn't want to be reminded of it. Before Yuko got married to Hideo's father she was together with an older man, someone who played a role in Amaterasu's past as well. Someone she wanted to protect her daughter from. Was she doing the right thing? And is the stranger really Hideo, how can she know? 

Each chapter of A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding begins with a Japanese word and an explanation. I loved reading these pieces of information. Amaterasu hasn't had an easy life and she's been consumed by guilt for so many years. If she'd have acted differently Yuko might still have been alive. It isn't her fault the Americans attacked, but she feels like it is her fault because she sent Yuko to that place. Jackie Copleton has told her story so well that I could feel her pain. Even though she isn't guilty and isn't to blame, I understood why she felt like that. She reads Yuko's diaries even though they are private and they're bringing her pain. These brief insights in Yuko's life gave the story so much extra depth. The relationship between mother and daughter is both moving and complicated, especially since Amaterasu goes really far trying protect Yuko, I had tears in my eyes because of her motherly love sometimes. 

Amaterasu has such a difficult past and she has known very little happiness in her life. Fortunately she ended up with a man like Kenzo, a good man who always tried to be her rock. They have a complicated history which remains secret until the end of the story. It was quite intriguing and I kept wanting to know more. Jackie Copleton was making me feel curious. She tells the story with such a great sensitivity which makes it beautiful. She's considerate, but honest and I liked that a lot. The Second World War was a difficult time to be young. A lot of men were sent abroad to fight, also if they didn't want to, and many of them didn't survive. I had tears in my eyes when I read about the things that were happening. War makes so many victims and each of them has a story. That's what I kept thinking about when I read this book. Amaterasu's world has crumbled because of it. I think A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is an amazing story about a fascinating woman with an interesting, but heartbreaking past.

Japan Weekend: Japanese Girl Necklace Giveaway

These Japanese beauties have all been made by Zingara Creativa.

I love Alessia's beautiful creations.

They're so detailed and pretty.

And her Japan themed collection is fantastic. 

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a wonderful prize.

A Japan themed surprise necklace will be for the winner of this giveaway.

Good luck!

I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend: Etsy - Suze Loves Atelier Nature House

Atelier Nature House is a self built log cabin. 

Yu and her husband Juro are living at the foot of the Hakuba mountains in Japan.

It's the beautiful environment that inspired them to translate their beautiful surroundings into jewelry.

I think the pieces are absolutely stunning!

They are elegant and stylish and so well made.

This jewelry is special and it's one of a kind.

The flowers and plants have all been found around the cabin.

I love this gorgeous delicate jewelry.

Visit this amazing store and admire the stunning pieces.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

Japan Weekend: Kawaii Giveaway

Enter this kawaii giveaway for a chance to win two sticker sacks, a bag, a mini plush, a pouch and a wallet (from ModeS4u and Kawaii Shop Japan). Good luck!

I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Japan Weekend: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

The Professor needs a new housekeeper. Many have been offered this job, but nobody managed to last for a very long time. The Professor has a brilliant mind, but because of an accident his memory doesn't function very well anymore. He can remember everything and everyone from before the accident, but now after 80 minutes everything is gone from his mind again. That means he will never be able to remember the Housekeeper. She has to introduce herself to him every time the 80 minutes are up. The Professor uses notes that he attaches to his suit, this reminds him of basic things, like the fact that he has a memory problem. When he hears about the Housekeeper's son, Root, he asks her to bring him. Even though the Professor forgets Root as well they still have a special connection. The Professor is still very good at maths. He tries to solve problems and he teaches Root. Slowly the Housekeeper, Root and the Professor find a routine together, one that will be beneficiary to all of them.

The professor can come up with the most amazing connections between numbers. Because of this book I started to appreciate the beauty of some of them. I learned a lot about maths and the way numbers can have some kind of amazing relationship. The professor will never be able to have any permanent memories from the time after his accident. He's forced to live in a present that is inevitably linked with the past. The Housekeeper learns to find a way to connect with him and through her memory they discuss something new every time. Root loves his chats with the professor, especially when they talk about sports. Even though the professor can't ever remember any new names in the teams with some adjustments and little white lies from Root they can have the most wonderful conversations about their favorite topic besides math. It was so moving to see the ten year old boy and the Professor interact with each other. 

The Housekeeper and the Professor has impressed me very much. The story is original and very well written. Having a memory that erases itself is one of the most horrible things there is, but because of his extremely bright mind the Professor manages to live with it in a very smart way. I loved him from the start and he's a character that will always have a special place in my heart. He loves children and Root is a boy, so every time he sees him it brightens the Professor's day. That was so beautiful to watch. I really enjoyed reading this unusual book about love and friendship in an almost impossible situation. I read this story in one sitting and think it's so good that I can't praise it enough.  

Jul 26, 2015

Japan Weekend: I Love Japan!

I've never been to Japan, but it's very high on my wish list of countries I'd like to visit. I've always been fascinated by the beautiful art, the delicious and pretty food and kawaii. Online Japanese stores are usually a joy to buy from. Most Japanese web shop owners are very kind and their service is great. I like Japanese clothes and accessories for example and am often wearing them.

I have a wonderful collection of kawaii (the Japanese word for cute) letter sets and stickers. I'm still collecting, but not as actively as I used to, simply because space is a problem. One of my dreams is to have my own kawaii museum some day. I love cute, it cheers me up, it makes me happy and it makes the child in me come to life again. For me kawaii drawings are fascinating and I can look at them for hours. I once went to a great exhibition of Japanese art and it was amazing to see so many works of my favorite artists on display. 

I like reading manga, I think the drawings are often stunning and it's fun to read these books. I even have a little manga drawing of myself that I treasure. I've always been a fan of comic books and manga enables me to escape into that world again for a few hours. 

I like sushi and sashimi and can't even begin to imagine how the real Japanese version will taste. The presentation of food is important in Japan. I love decorated bento boxes. I can spend hours looking at them. One day I'm hoping to be able to taste real Japanese food and to have an original bento (lunch box) filled with beautiful decorated food. 

I have several other Japan posts planned and hope you liked what I showed you so far. For me this weekend is so much fun as it's well known territory and I have a chance to show some old favorites and discover something new at the same time. I love Japan!

Japan Weekend Book Review: High-Powered, Hot-Blooded by Natsu Momose and Susan Mallery

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Suze

Annie's brother is in trouble again. He has a gambling problem and he has embezzled money from the company he's working for. Because he can't pay it back the CEO, Duncan, who's got the reputation of being the meanest CEO in the country, demands her to pay it back. To be able to do that Annie has to sell her house, but she can't do that. Annie is a loving and caring person, which is exactly what Duncan needs. Instead of paying him back Annie can also date him for a month. That way she won't lose her house and her brother won't be prosecuted. Her task is to improve Duncan's image, because she's sweet and loving. It's exactly what he needs. The only thing he isn't counting on is that he might actually like Annie...

High-Powered, Hot-Blooded is an entertaining story about a sweet teacher and a cold CEO. She lets him see he has a warmer side and he shows her how gorgeous she can look. I loved Natsu Momose's beautiful drawings, they are a joy to look at. The story is really romantic and the drawings made it come to life so well. I enjoyed reading this comic so much, it's the perfect Christmas story. I highly recommend it. Even if you don't normally read the genre, I think you will like this story very much. It's also a great comic/manga style book to start with if you've never read one. There are clear instructions on how to read it, which is handy for beginners. I can't praise this book enough. I was completely engrossed in the story and I read it in one sitting. I just couldn't put it away. 

Japan Weekend: Suze Loves CreaBia & Giveaway!

I love CreaBia, a shop filled with cheerful kawaii jewelry and charms.

The owner, Bianca, makes the cutest things.

I've a regular buyer and the customer service is wonderful.

Bianca ships really fast and everything she makes looks great.

As her prices are so reasonable Bianca's shop is the perfect place to find cute gifts.

I love the variety of cuteness and happiness in this shop.

The colors are so lovely and sweet.

Bianca works with both polymer clay and material mixes. I really like the accessories she creates.

Check out this fantastic, super cute Etsy store, you will love it.

Enjoy browsing...

And have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a fantastic prize:

This set of very kawaii rainbow brooches will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

 I will contact the winner via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.
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