Blog Tour [Review]: Hanami (#1) and Hazakura (#2) by V.C. Buckley (plus a $10 Giveaway!)

Hanami by VC Buckley Review Tour

Today we’re featuring Hanami and Hazakura (the sequel!) by author V.C. Buckley! This is a series in a genre that I don’t usually review, but lately I’ve been trying to be more open to contemporary fiction (you know, young adult, new adult, etc.) so I jumped at the chance to join this blog tour. I’m also pretty psyched because the author is from Manila! Gotta support my fellow Filipina, you know. :)

Read more about the books below and check out my review. Then enter the blog tour giveaway for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N. Yay!

Hanami by VC BuckleyHanami by V.C. Buckley

“I am no princess… I am Yakuza,”

SAKURA SHINTANI is the heir to the Dragon Clan—Japan’s most notorious crime dynasty. But can she keep this fact a secret from the annoying brats of Oniyuri Academy?

She must try to master her demons while trying not to hurt anyone. But having the face of an angel puts her on everyone’s radar… including the arrogant heir to Asia’s most powerful tycoon, KENJIN KIYOHARA. He senses the danger, but Sakura is too interesting to be left alone.

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An easy read, interesting characters, fun and exciting story

Holy cow, I finished this book in less than a day! The prose is descriptive and flows easily, the characters intriguing and the story exciting, so this book was such an easy read.

I like the main character, Sakura. She’s definitely a strong heroine, but also imperfect and has a vulnerability that is reasonable and even relatable. Her love interest, Jin, is also interesting in his own way, but it’s Sakura who really captures your attention. I like how their love story evolves throughout the book.

The plot twists are great. I just think that the reveals or resolutions to some of the crucial points in the story are too easy or simplified. Like some are a little bit glossed over, then sort of explained later on. Maybe I just wanted more intrigue and action. They are some pretty interesting twists though and I truly enjoyed them.

Lastly, I love all the Asian elements in this – the setting, the culture and traditions, the sport (kendo), the food. Made me hungry, tbh. Haha.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this one and couldn’t wait to get to the next book (review below!).

Hazakura VC BuckleyHazakura (Hanami #2) by V.C. Buckley

Can love last for a mafia princess?

find out in this riveting sequel to HANAMI…

KENJIN KIYOHARA, the son of Asia’s most powerful tycoon has finally won the heart of SAKURA SHINTANI, the heir to Japan’s most notorious crime dynasty. But their new love is threatened as Sakura’s trigger-happy oppositions see Kenjin as her ultimate weakness, making her rethink the decision to be with him. But Kenjin is determined to stay by her side, even if it might cost him his life.

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Another easy read, with interesting plot twists, still a fun and exciting story

This was as easy to read as the first book. The writing is also descriptive and flows easily. The characters are even more (or have grown more) interesting than in the first book. However, though the story is still as exciting as the first one, for some reason, it felt slower. I’m not sure why, maybe it was just my mood while reading it.

Anyway, Sakura is still a badass. And Jin is well, still Jin. He’s a little unreasonably (in my opinion) jealous in this one though so I didn’t like him as much, but he redeems himself so it’s fine.

The plot twists are also great, but, like in the first book, I think the reveals and resolutions are way too easy and convenient. There’s a tad bit more action though, so that was fun.

Overall, I still enjoyed reading this one and I’m still interested to read more about Sakura’s story.

Note: I received review copies of these books as part of my participation in the tour. All opinions and views expressed here are my own.

About the Author

VC Buckley authorV.C. Buckley was born in an isolated government facility and shipped off to an Island in Southeast Asia where she grew up braving tropical thunderstorms and warding off evil villains. At sixteen she was discovered by an agent and jetted off all over the world. Her stories come from gritty moments of her childhood to the glitz of her travels. She now lives in Manila with her husband, two kids and an herb garden that has hijacked her balcony.

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Read an Excerpt from Hanami

Jin rolled his eyes, settling his gaze back on the girl. He wasn’t surprised with their reaction.

The new girl was hot, but so what? It took more than a pretty face to get his attention. He wasn’t that easy to impress, and he was certain she’d be throwing herself at him anyway. Just like everybody else. He was sure this girl wasn’t any different from the love-crazed hyenas that stalked him.

Jin pushed back his shoulders, seeing her start towards him with her eyes still trailing on the ground.

Already? Jin thought, suppressing a laugh. He crossed his arms, waiting for her to get closer, and sure enough she stopped right in front of him. She was even prettier up close. Asian but with a hint of Caucasian mixed in.

“What?” he asked, smirking. He already knew what she might say: whether he was Kenjin Kiyohara, the sole heir to Kiyohara Industries? The questions were all the same. He thought she would have at least waited until class was over like the rest of them.

“Move your feet. You’re blocking my way,” the girl said in a sharp tone. She shifted her gaze up at him like a threatening knife. Her topaz-colored eyes darkened, sending icy tremors down his back. He felt as if he’d been hit by a curse as his mind turned blank.

When she finally looked away, Jin was able to regain his senses. He tucked his legs out of her way, and she passed, leaving goosebumps in her wake. His eyes followed her, waiting to see if she’d look back, but she never did. Jin’s hands were trembling. His thoughts became jumbled while he struggled not to look anymore.

What was that? What just happened? This was a first for him. He couldn’t contain himself. His presence had no impact whatsoever. Instead she looked like she wanted to kill him!

Jin took a deep breath, replaying the moment in his head. Who was this girl? She sure got his attention, all right—and it left him in pieces. He fought the urge to look back again.

This girl…Jin thought. There was something about her. He couldn’t shake off the feeling. She seemed dangerous.


V.C. Buckley will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Follow the rest of the tour and comment on the tour stops for more chances of winning:

Review: The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison

I don’t review anything that isn’t fantasy or science fiction on this blog often unless it was something that really piqued my interest. And Sandra Hutchison’s The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire was something that caught my attention when I first read the summary. I guess it was because it reminded me a little bit of Another Earth, this awesome indie film starring Brit Marling. The movie and this book are quite different but have similar main characters. The story of Another Earth revolves around a young woman who cleans the house of a music professor who lost his family in a car crash. In Ribs and Thigh Bones, the story revolves around a teenage girl who keeps house for a physics professor who lost his family in a plane crash. Interesting, right?

Anyway, read on to know more about The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire and check out my thoughts on the book.

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The Asphalt Warrior Series by Gary Reilly

I read Gary Reilly’s The Heart of Darkness Club last year and I really liked it. Reilly’s writing style and language is smooth, clever and quite entertaining. I would’ve liked to review the other books in The Asphalt Warrior Series, but I just don’t have the time. Hopefully though I’ll get a hold of the books in the not so distant future. :)

In the meantime, please read about the newly-released books in the series: Dr. Lovebeads and Home For The Holidays. Also, you might want to check out the other tour stops and enter the giveaways!

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Review: The Heart of Darkness Club by Gary Reilly

I finished this book on the same day I posted that I was late with this review. On that day I finished my work, did a couple of posts (including my tour stop post for this book), had a late dinner and then plopped down on my bed with my iPad and finished the book relatively quickly! Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with any more details about that so let’s talk about the book, shall we?

The Heart of Darkness Club by Gary Reilly

The entire book is narrated from a first person perspective by the main character Murph, a 40-something Denver cab driver who also happens to be an English major grad and an unpublished novelist. The book is basically a snapshot of his life as a cabbie or as an “asphalt warrior” and about what kind of person he is, and then it gets pretty interesting when he picks up a guy who may or may have not left him a note on a five dollar bill. He picks this guy up a couple more times before the guy disappears and Murph gets investigated by the police.

The Heart of Darkness Club is the third book in the Asphalt Warrior Series. Find out more about the series here.

Great writing, great story

I really liked this book. I loved the writing style, the flow of the story, the plot itself, the characters, almost everything. The cover could use a little more work because it just doesn’t capture how interesting this book is. I haven’t read the first two novels in the series, but it didn’t matter because The Heart of Darkness Club can stand on its own. There may be references to stuff that happened in the previous books, but the author didn’t dwell on those too much and they didn’t leave any burning questions for the reader.

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Blog Tour: The Heart of Darkness Club by Gary Reilly

Egad, I am delayed with a review again! I’m currently reading this book and it’s pretty interesting so far–flows easily and reads like a casual conversation. I’ll have my review before the tour ends!

In the meantime, read more about The Heart of Darkness Club and its author Gary Reilly (who passed away before any of his novels were published). Also, please check out the other tour stops. :)

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Poison Me by Cami Checketts (plus the author’s top 10 favorite literary characters!)

Blog Tour Schedule

Hello! I am actually away at the beach this weekend, but here’s an awesome blog tour and giveaway for you! Read about Poison Me, the latest by author Cami Checketts. There’s a tour-wide giveaway so don’t forget to put in your entries for a chance to win AWESOME stuff! ;)

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Spotlight: Shades of Gray by Susanne Jacoby Hale

Nope, this is not that Shades of Gray. This is a different kind of book and I’ll be doing a review of this next year. In the meantime, read more about it and see if this is something that interests you! Download a preview by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post. :)

About the book

In inner-city New York, horrors lurk in the unruly hallways of Malcolm High School. As in-school riots and gang violence consistently envelop the classroom, Olivia Dalton attempts to teach her students while simultaneously directing a drop-out prevention program that embraces an ever-increasing group of at-risk students. Left with little hope she will ever have children of her own, Olivia becomes entrenched in her students’ lives, partly out of love, but also out of an unconscious desire to avoid her own internal anguish.

Meanwhile, Olivia’s devoted husband, Tom, is having trouble facing his own disappointments in not being able to create a family. In an effort to protect Olivia, he attempts to hold her back from the one place she feels useful and fulfilled-her career. But despite her husband’s efforts to quell her desire to help the troubled and confused, Olivia presses on and believes in change, even in the face of her students’ continual mistakes and poor choices. Neither Tom nor Olivia have any idea that everything is about to change when an unassuming gift is left at their door.

Shades of Gray is the profound story of one woman’s unpredictable journey to the truth, new beginnings, and a kind of love she never knew before.

About the author

SUSANNE JACOBY HALE, a former drop-out prevention teacher in a New York City high school, earned a master’s degree from New York University in education and creative writing. Although, when she began teaching in the real ACE program, depicted in Shades of Gray, she had no idea that it would change her life forever. Having been out of the classroom for a few years, Jacoby Hale still felt the need to make a difference in the lives of students.

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Download a preview of Shades of Gray here.

Book Club Bash: Review of X-It by Jane George

This is my second stop for Book Club Bash and I have here a review of X-It by author Jane George. :)


In 1980 NYC, eighteen-year-old J.J. Buckingham is an uptight trendoid. Working as a mannequin painter and a counter girl, she moonlights as a creature of the nightclubs. J.J. falls for aloof, crazy-talented artist and bicycle messenger X-It. In order to win his love, she succumbs to the dark machinations of drug dealer Marko Voodoo. X-It will love her if she’s the queen of underground Manhattan, right? Her plan backfires with horrendous consequences. J.J. must scrap her way out of a maze of drugs, clubs, and danger before she realizes she’s worthy of a better life. And true love might just come in the form of a clean-cut geek in Buddy Holly glasses.

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Giveaway & Interview: Marisol Murano, author of Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion

Here’s a great interview with Marisol Murano, author of Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion. Part “Bridget Jones Diary,” part “Modern Family,” Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion is the story of a South American woman trying to get a handle on her wacky life in America.

Read on to know more about Marisol and enter the giveaway to win one of three e-book copies of her book!

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