A Mortal Song online launch party begins!

My new book is out in the world today, and I couldn’t be more excited! I can’t wait to hear what you all think of A Mortal Song and Sora. But for now, it’s time to party!


Available in stores and online at:
Amazon (Kindle version only $0.99 this week) ~ Chapters/Indigo ~ B&N ~ Indiebound ~ BookDepository (international)

Talk with me!

All day you can post questions or share your thoughts by commenting on this blog post or on the Facebook event page. Remember, if you’re asking or talking about a key event from the book, please mark your comment with a SPOILER note so others who haven’t read yet can skip over it.

Win prizes!

Follow the Facebook event page and win! My guest authors and I will be posting giveaways on the FB wall throughout the day in which you can win books and swag, so check back regularly!

Enter my huge Japan-themed giveaway! You could win a massive gift pack featuring books, movies, TV series, and snack boxes from Japan.

Japan-themed giveaway

Additional launch activities (today only!)

Request a signed bookplate and bookmark to put in your paperback or hardcover copy of A Mortal Song over at the signing table.

Join the launch party live chat from 8:30-10:00pm EST, during which I’ll be giving out a few more prizes. Link to be posted here shortly beforehand!

Get inside the book!

Take a peek inside the book by reading the first three chapters here.

Hear the music that helped inspire the story by listening to the unofficial soundtrack.

Enjoy the festivities!

A Month of Japan – TokyoTreat

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Snack Subscription Box Review – TokyoTreat

tokyotreat

What you get: TokyoTreat offers their monthly themed boxes in three sizes, from $15 a month for 5-7 snacks to $35 a month for 13-17 snacks plus a guaranteed DIY kit, drink, and other special item. The boxes ship from Tokyo, with free shipping worldwide.

Review of the box:
I got the July large-sized box, for which the theme was Anime Characters. The outside of the box had a pretty design which you can see above and that extended into the interior, and TokyoTreat’s booklet was the most detailed and professional-looking of all the boxes I reviewed, including seasonal information about Japanese holidays and traditions, instructions for the DIY sets, and extra info about particular treats.

tokyotreatopenAnd, of course, a lot of snacks!
tokyotreatfullAs before, I jotted down my thoughts on each of the snacks as I tried them out and gave them a rating out of 3 (0 = nope, 1 = all right, 2 = quite good, 3 = OMG where can I get more of this?).

tokyot1Milk-flavored Potato Chips – These light chips were a bit odd, because the chips were savory but the milk flavor on them sweet. I usually like sweet and salty together, but although I enjoyed these somewhat, I’m not sure the balance was ideal. 2.

Black Thunder Gold – Great chocolate bar: sweet but not too sweet, the chocolate rich, and a great mix of creamy/chewy chocolate and crispy, crunchy wafer. I liked this a lot! 3.

Fortune-telling Chocolate Pills (Dagashi Kashi) – The idea behind these is cute, but the actual tiny chocolates were kind of bland, like mini smarties or M&Ms. 1.

tokyot2Thomas & Friends Chocolate Pretzel Sticks – These sticks were basically a Pocky imitation, but with less icing and a harder, more bland biscuit, so less tasty. 1.

Anpanman Ramune Candy – The candies had a nice texture, crunchy and not too powdery, lightly sweet with a light fruit flavor. 2.

Yokai Watch Chocolate – Very cute chocolate “popsicle”—I almost didn’t want to eat it. 🙂 The milk chocolate was creamy but a bit chalky, and the top layers with different colors looked as if they should have different flavors but all I tasted was chocolate throughout. 1.

Thomas & Friends Chewing Candy – I don’t generally like artificial grape flavor, and the candies proved to be no exception. For someone who does like the taste, the texture was enjoyably chewy and substantial. 1.

tokyot3Pokemon Gummy – These candies were a little softer than I usually like my gummies, but had a nice smooth texture and a mild fruity flavor. 1.

Dragon Ball Heroes Snack 5 – These tasted like North American cheese puffs—I enjoyed them well enough, but there was nothing very exciting or unique about them. 1.

Marutake Peach Drink – This beverage came in a squeezable plastic bottle, which was interesting. The drink was mildly sweet, noncarbinated, and vaguely fruity, nice enough but nothing standout about it. 1.

tokyot4Moko Moko Mokolet Toilet DIY Candy 3 – This gets one point just for unique-ness: You literally assemble a five-piece mini plastic toilet! The candy (which you drink through a straw) was a little more sour than I usually prefer, but somewhat tasty. 2.

Soybean Flour Mochi Rice Cake DIY – This DIY kit was very simple to prepare and very tasty, with a nice balance of dry flour with soft jelly. The jelly was very smooth and had a subtle nutty flavor that I loved. 3.

tokyot5Cocotama Snack – These heart-shaped, fluffy, and crunchy biscuits had a corn cereal-like texture and taste with a light artificial strawberry flavor that worked well in combination. I enjoyed these a lot! 3.

Brazilian Orange Pocky – I always enjoy Pocky, and this was a unique (seasonal) flavor I’ve never encountered before. The light artificial orange flavor in the icing tasted great with the biscuit. 3.

Shrimp Crackers – The crackers had a nice crunch and texture, but I couldn’t taste the shrimp flavor at all, which was disappointing because I really like shrimp chips and crackers usually! 1.

Caipis Gummy – These gummies were lightly sweet with a light citrus flavor, almost creamy in taste. They were soft but satisfyingly chewy. I really liked them. 3.

Overall thoughts: Unfortunately I was overall disappointed with this box. Many of the snacks were bland or just okay. I might blame that on the focus being finding character-based candies, but I had the same problem with the ones that weren’t character candies too. It’s too bad, because the packaging and booklet were standouts for sure!

Overall snack rating: 29/48, 60%

Join me next week for more recs! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

A Month of Japan – Summer Wars

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Animated Film Rec – Summer Wars

summerwars

What it’s all about: Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He’s good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiance at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematic riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using the virtual word of OZ to destroy the real world, literarily. As Armageddon looms on the horizon, Kenji and his new family set aside their differences and band together to save the worlds they inhabit in this near-perfect blend of social satire and science fiction.

Why you should watch it: Calling this a blend is right on the nose. I didn’t know much about the movie going in, and thinking it was a science fiction adventure, I was a little confused by the (nonetheless enjoyable) family dramedy elements it begins with. But the false fiancé story quickly becomes tangled with a virtual reality war that ends up involving every member of this colorful cast. The contrasting elements are woven together seamlessly, the action and twists will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the ending is incredibly satisfying while feeling well-earned.

What’s your favorite VR storyline? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

A Month of Japan – Kids Return

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Live Action Film Rec – Kids Return

kidsreturn

What it’s all about: Masaru and Shinji are two delinquent teenage slackers who cut classes, play pranks on their teachers and extort money from their fellow students. After dropping out of school, Shinji takes up boxing. Masaru, the loud mouth, talks his way into the local Yakuza gang. But just as they’re about to attain success in their new professions, the past returns to haunt them.

Why you should watch it: This is a story that slowly unfolds, drawing you into the protagonists’ lives until the interconnections come into vivid clarity. Masaru and Shinji aren’t always the most sympathetic figures, but they and their problems figuring out where they fit in feel authentic, as does their evolving friendship.

What’s your favorite slice-of-life drama film? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

A Month of Japan – Serial Experiments Lain

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

TV Rec – Serial Experiments Lain

lain

What it’s all about: Lain Iwakura, an awkward and introverted fourteen-year-old, is one of the many girls from her school to receive a disturbing email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda—the very same Chisa who recently committed suicide. Lain has neither the desire nor the experience to handle even basic technology; yet, when the technophobe opens the email, it leads her straight into the Wired, a virtual world of communication networks similar to what we know as the internet. Lain’s life is turned upside down as she begins to encounter cryptic mysteries one after another. Strange men called the Men in Black begin to appear wherever she goes, asking her questions and somehow knowing more about her than even she herself knows. With the boundaries between reality and cyberspace rapidly blurring, Lain is plunged into more surreal and bizarre events where identity, consciousness, and perception are concepts that take on new meanings. (from MyAnimeList)

Why you should watch it: This is another reality-bending story, capturing the absorbing and sometimes addictive nature of the internet in advance of our modern-day world where everyone is wired in (metaphorically speaking). Haunting, poignant, and frightening at turns, you may not always understand what’s going on, but the emotions the story stirs up are no less real for that. And the soundtrack is lovely.

What’s your fave tech-centric story? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

A Month of Japan – Out

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Book Rec – Out by Natsuo Kirino

out

What it’s all about: This mesmerizing novel tells the story of a brutal murder in the staid Tokyo suburbs, as a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime. The coolly intelligent Masako emerges as the plot’s ringleader, but quickly discovers that this killing is merely the beginning, as it leads to a terrifying foray into the violent underbelly of Japanese society.

Why you should read it: This book is absolutely gripping, difficult to put down from the moment the story gets going. The extreme situation the characters find themselves in is both horrifying and understandable, and the varied reactions of the four main characters ring true. Masako is smart and tough, able to make the best of a bad situation, but not without her vulnerabilities. And I loved seeing the focus on women supporting each other and working together, though of course there’s plenty of conflict between them too. If you enjoy thrillers, you’ve got to read this one.

Content warning: Graphic violence

What’s your most-loved story about women making their own fates? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

The Music of A Mortal Song

All of my books have an unofficial soundtrack, because I’m always connecting songs I hear to the stories in my head, and listening to them helps inspire me throughout the various stages of the writing process. You can listen to my unofficial soundtrack for A Mortal Song here on my website. I wanted to share a little about how certain songs fit into the story for me.

Note: Vague spoilers if you haven’t yet read the book.

“Evolution” by Ayumi Hamasaki has always been Song‘s theme song, as it were. I used to picture it playing over an anime TV-show style opening featuring the characters and scenes from the book. It’s got a high energy vibe that suits that story’s action, and many of the lyrics fit Sora’s emotional journey (translation from PrimeNova):

“With your own two eyes
please decide the worth of this place.
Do it with your own standards.”

“We’ve arrived on this kind of world.
Somehow I’m very happy
somehow it hurts a lot.”

“Magic” by Ben Folds Five is the love theme from Keiji’s point of view, because to him Sora is magic. It was always playing in my head during the night scene where Sora dances apart from the kami:

“saw you last night
dance by the light of the moon
stars in your eyes
free from the life that you knew”

“You Picked Me” by A Fine Frenzy is the love theme from Sora’s point of view. After feeling she is—and must be—second to Chiyo in everyone’s eyes, having someone see her as powerful and desirable helps her recognize the value in herself and accept the feelings for him she doesn’t totally understand. And it’s seeing his willingness to put her first that allows her to accept his accidental betrayal.

“Like an apple on a tree
Hiding out behind the leaves
I was difficult to reach
But you picked me”

“You got me,
Searched the sand
And climbed the tree
And brought me back down”

Finally, “Hello Another Way” by The Brilliant Green makes a perfect ending theme. It looks both backward to connections formed and forward to a hopeful future, acknowledging the uncertainty of what lies ahead but appreciating being in this spot all the same (translation from AnimeLyrics):

Sing to the beautiful summer which had just blossomed from the phantom darkness.”

I reach out a hand to my dream.
Though it’s still far away, I want to believe
That someday it will surely come true.

For it’s because of you that I’ve managed to come this far.
I’m so glad we’ve met.

A Month of Japan – WOWBOX

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Snack Subscription Box Review – WOWBOX

wowbox

What you get: WOWBOX is unique in that they offer four different types of boxes depending on your snacking preferences, three of those in two different sizes. The cheapest box is $15 a month and the most expensive $35, and all come with free shipping to most countries worldwide. The available boxes include “New & Limited” (the latest and most exclusive Japanese treats), “Fun & Tasty” (a mix of playful, odd, and classic treats), “Kawaii & Beauty” (with a theoretical consideration to a healthy diet), and “Dagashi” (classic small candies and snacks). All of these are curated and shipped directly from Japan.

Review of the box:
I requested a large “Fun & Tasty” box because it sounded likely to be a little different from the others I was trying, while still having treats I’d enjoy. The packaging and insert were a little plain (the insert included nutritional information, which the other boxes hadn’t)…

wowboxopen wowboxinsert

…but of course it’s the snacks inside that matter most, and this looked like a great lot!
wowboxfullAs before, I jotted down my thoughts on each of the snacks as I tried them out and gave them a rating out of 3 (0 = nope, 1 = all right, 2 = quite good, 3 = OMG where can I get more of this?).

wowsnack1Amijaga German Potato – These hearty potato chips had a satisfyingly crunchy texture, a light salt and definite bacon flavor, and weren’t too heavy despite their thickness. I liked them a lot! 3.

Corn Potage – A fluffier chip, I found these to be lightly crunchy with a taste exactly like fresh, almost creamily sweet corn. So good! 3.

wowsnack2Pie No Mi Kiitigo no Cream Cheese Pie – The bite-sized hexagonal pastries had a fluffy exterior, but I found them quite dry and they didn’t have much filling to offset the dryness or provide the promised raspberry cream cheese flavor. I probably would have liked them more with about twice as much filling. 1.

Papaya Lemon Choco – These candies came in individually wrapped squares. Each was made of white chocolate with a pleasantly light, authentic-tasting papaya flavor mixed in, and a marshmallow center that added extra dimension and a pleasing chewy texture. Unique but very enjoyable. Yum! 3.

Umai Bo (Chocolate) – This long, puffy, hollow wafer with chocolate coating was a nice mix of sweet and salty, but a little on the bland side. 2.

wowsnack3Garibori Ramen Spicy Garlic – A snacking ramen (no cooking necessary), these noodles had great crunch and texture, but the salty garlic flavor was so strong it was overpowering, and I couldn’t taste any other spices. I would have liked it better with a milder flavor. 1.

Ultra Hlyarinko Ice Gum – I expected this gum to have a minty flavor, but it was actually sweet and mildly fruity, yet still with a bit of chill to it. It’s bubble gum and good for that purpose—I could blow quite a large bubble before it popped—but the flavor was almost gone after just five minutes. 2.

Donguri Gum (Apple) – Artificial apple flavor isn’t my favorite, but this sweet treat wasn’t actively unpleasant either. After a few minutes the hard candy exterior gave way to a very sweet gum interior with not much other flavor. 1.

Awa Cola Ramune – A clear cola taste and very fizzy on the tongue, cola lovers should enjoy this! I’m not a big fan of cola flavor, but I still appreciated the authenticity. 2.

wowsnack4Petit Sour Cream Onion Sen – These wafers were light but with enough substance not to be too airy, and had an enjoyable creamy taste with a little onion spice mixed in. Some pieces were more flavorful than others—the ones with the stronger flavor I loved. 2.

Hunwari Baum Orange Chocola – This treat was basically a slice of cake with a nice dense texture and a light chocolate taste that blended well with the sweet orange icing. I loved this! 3.

Gaburi Chew Strawberry Yogurt – This candy had a great chewy texture, but the strawberry and yogurt flavors were very artificial and kind of powdery tasting. 1.

wowsnack5Doki Doki Puchitto Honey Lemon – Satisfyingly chewy candies with a great balance of sour and sweet and lots of tang. Mmmm. 3.

Mitsuya Fruits Cider Gummy Mango – These gummies were a bit on the tough side, but the excellent mango flavoring was distinct without being overpowering, a little sweet and a little tangy. 2.

wowsnack6a wowsnack6b
Nyoki Nyoki Kororon (DIY)
– The booklet offered a handy link to a video that explained how to make this DIY kit. The candy that resulted had a bit of an odd texture, crunchy coating over soft, gel-like cream, but I quite enjoyed the blending of the orange, melon, and grape flavors with the sweet creamy base. If you leave them a little while, they get crunchy all the way through. Very sweet. 2.

Purutto Jelly Orange – This was kind of like drinking soft jello: the texture was a little lumpy, which wasn’t super pleasant but not totally off-putting either. I enjoyed the mild natural-ish orange flavor. 2.

Golden Saku Saku Panda – These biscuits had a lovely blend of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate, which combined perfectly while allowing you to taste all three. Great balance of icing to cookie, too! I finished the package wishing I had more. 3.

Overall thoughts: This was my favorite selection of snacks, with lots of please both my sweet tooth and my salty/savory tooth, and several treats I’d be eager to eat again.

Overall snack rating: 36/51, 71%

Note: I received this box free in exchange for my honest review.

Join me next week for more recs! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer

A Month of Japan – Perfect Blue

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Animated Film Rec – Perfect Blue

perfectblue

What it’s all about: Mima Kirigoe is a squeaky-clean Japanese pop singer who decides to leave the music industry and try her hand at acting. Finding her way in her new field proves to be difficult as she is forced to take humiliating work in perverse low-budget films. Mima is stalked by an obsessed fan, irate at her decision to abandon her successful music career. A series of bloody murders follow Mima as she descends into a delusional and hallucinatory mental state, while a mysterious internet blog claiming to be written by the real Mima reports personal information to a leering public eye. Mima is pushed further into a psychological black hole as the film weaves a fractured and bizarre setting. Perfect Blue explores the voyeuristic modern-day obsessions with celebrity, identity and mental instability.

Why you should watch it: This is an intense, gripping psychological thriller that does its work so effectively that viewers will find themselves doubting their perceptions alongside the main character. The movie manages to make you feel nearly as disoriented as Mima must, and that’s impressive. Mima is a resilient but understandably unsteady heroine whose struggle to climb out of the box her career has put her in really resonates. The villain is unexpected and the finale satisfying.

Content warning: Violence, including sexual assault

What’s the twistiest psychological thriller you’ve ever seen? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime, or check out my pre-order offer:

new release offer