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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Falling for Sakura Book # 1


Falling for Sakura Book # 1 by Alexia Praks

Sakura is a Japanese-American girl that was adopted by the very rich Princeton family. As children she was bullied by her stepsisters while all her seven stepbrothers were indifferent to her. Several years later, Sakura now 23, gets to meet her siblings again in a long, overdue reunion. Warning! This is intended for older audience.

One of the blog readers, Frizzy, suggested this story from Wattpad. I checked the author's website and there was a form for reviewing the book. So I entered my info and the author contacted me through email and voila I got myself a free copy. This is my first time to ask for a copy in exchange for review. And just like the time I was given a free copy, I was again nervous of what if I don't like it. It was me who asked for it and not the other way around. 

There's a character sheet list with descriptions of their ages, hair color and eyes, personalities etc. It's a good reference since there's a lot of stepbrothers. I liked the fact that she used the same family shades of colors for the eyes. Some got silvery-gray eyes like the dad's while others got varying shades of blue like the mom's. I wished the hair color were also restricted to blondes and blacks just like their parents for uniformity sake. Unlike in Japanese mangas and animes, they can get away with the multicolored eyes and hair. I'm sorry I'm really nitpicky with colors. As a kid I used to list down all the weird color names I encounter in books. If I'll have daughters I'll be naming them after colors.

The story is written in multiple POV. It's the first time I get to read this kind of format. It's unconventional but it works. You get to see the real time insights of what they're all thinking at the same exact moment. It gives off a feeling of fast paced without being rushed. I also liked the fact that the reverse harem element feels like a naturally-occurring phenomenon. That's just me maybe those who are totally new with reverse harem may find it otherwise.  

The story reminds me of "Mills and Boon" and "Harlequin" pocketbooks given the reverse harem treatment. For the younger generation, it's like the "Fifty Shades of Grey" of our time. But this is actually under new adult genre. It's steamy and such a tease! I think at one point I got carried away with one of the smexy situations. There's also drama but not the overbearing kind of drama. 

The characters are also patterned after Snow White but in this case seven Princes. I loved that Sakura or Snow has grown into confident and feisty woman. It also works that it's a love triangle within a reverse harem but still it makes me curious of how the rest of the brothers will fare in the second and third books. Yes, it's going to be a trilogy. I think I'm drawn to Sebastian but all the brothers are equally hot! Sakura's dog, Toby, reminds me of Julie the squirrel in Brothers Conflict. But he's the exact opposite of Julie. Lol.

The reverse harem take on the modern romance novels is a winning combination that I didn't expect. The strong willed girl is a breath of fresh air among the pushover heroines in reverse harem. While the multitude of men is also a breath of fresh air among the formulaic standard romance novels. I scored it 4 out of 5 stars in Goodreads. I think the world is not yet ready with reverse harem but as reverse harem I'm giving it high marks for enjoyability. 

I filed this under OEL which means Original English Language. It refers to mangas and graphic novels published in English. But I decided to tag English novels and TV series under this label for easy reference in this site. Maybe I'll add other stuff such as English otome in the future.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! :D I've been your silent reader for as long as I can remember! I'm so happy that I can read this on Wattpad :) Keep up with your good work! I've and will always check your blog in my free times ;)

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    1. I think it's been removed from Wattpad as it it will be published in the book. Please continue to drop by. :)

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  2. I actually found that it was extremely poorly written and rather hard to get through. The dialogue is choppy, the characters lack substance, there’s no actual substance or storyline outside of the romance, and I’ve read a thousand fanfictions exactly like it. The writing was extremely band and barren, lacking descriptions and I’m kind of sad that this will be an actual book.

    Almost every bad reverse harem fanfiction follows the same storyline: several attractive males that are tired of literally every girl falling for them all fall in love with one "special snowflake" that is impervious to their charms. The fact that they all have a past with the female character is nothing new either. In fact, in a good deal of these the male characters and occasionally the females have some sort of emotional or familial connection to the female lead prior to the story.

    The male leads are all run of the mill and I actually found myself having to look back and check who was who when I was reading because there were so many, which is a number one no-no for good, advanced writing. The more main characters you throw in the less screen time for all of them, as was evidenced at the end when the notes left on several beds stated “I wish I had gotten to know you better”. I also noted that besides their (rather vauge) descriptions at the beginning of the book they were all…pretty similar. Their tempers were all incredibly incident-specific and were only seen when something involving the female lead was involved. They all seemed to share the same skills (technology, art (or art appreciation), athletics) and were all incredibly desirable. I didn’t find myself drawn to or appalled by any of these characters and honestly that’s a problem to me. If you can’t evoke any sort of emotion from me when I’m reading then there’s a problem.

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  3. I’m going to be honest; when I saw that this was “for mature readers” I actually got quite excited. I figured that this mysterious Sakura that he book was named after was going to get into quite a few heated situations and possibly even some trouble because of these. A main character getting into troubles and having to deal with whatever repercussions come there was makes for an interesting story, after all. But I was extremely disappointed that by the time I was halfway through all that had happened in the realm of “adult” literature was a few wet shirts that lead to some pretty in-depth descriptions of the female lead’s nipples and one or two almost-boners from the brothers just looking at her. Rather boring and disappointing if you ask me.

    I also found it odd that she got hit with a fucking /car/ and walked away entirely unscathed. I mean take driver ed and you’ll realize that there was no way she would have gotten away like she did mostly because there’s no way that the driver would have been able to see her, comprehend what he was seeing, and stop the car in time to avoid her.

    Sakura is, in all essence, a Mary Sue. Quiet and demure, she was abandoned but given a very special, obviously expensive present by her birth mother (in realistic case, the mother would have sold this rare pink diamond to try and help care for her child rather than hold onto it and abandon her daughter. This also brings up the question of why was Sakura abandoned if her mother was wealthy). She's bullied rather severely for absolutely no reason but it leaves her with no ill will in the young girl. I mean I guess that could be forgiven but what bothers me is that she was flat out abused. Ignored and beaten from a young age Sakura walks away with no psychological trauma. At all. The entire situation is entirely unbelievable to me and I found it extremely odd that it was never mentioned outside of the prologue. Things like abuse and bullying don’t just…happen and then are forgotten. I won’t get too much into the reason why it bothers me so much, but it’s a poor handling of a major string of incidents that had been made into a minor plot point.

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  4. Onto her appearance. Even though Sakura is a mix and it seems that Japanese should be prevalent in her appearance, she's Caucasian enough so that her skin is pure white and she seems to retain no Asian traits aside from her dark hair and iris color. Speaking of her appearance, she doesn’t have a single flaw. She’s curvy enough that every female who she comes into contact with is either jealous or comments on how perfect it is. Her face is apparently quite innocent looking and lacks any sort of freckles, bumps, or scars. While I realize that the author wanted her to be as desirable as possible, a body that perfect leads to a rather bland appearance in my mind. I mean have you seen a model without a single flaw? If you say yes I’d recommend you look at the shots before they digitally retouch them.

    Sakura really lacks substance to me. She's beautiful and kind and smart and giving and seems to struggle with nothing outside of her inability to swim - something she quite easily overcomes. She was adopted by a rich family and despite the fact tha most very large rich families tend to be dysfunctional and lack a certain amount of love, it seems that the parents (despite obviously having jobs) pull off the impossible feat of actually being good parents sans nannies or any type of caretakers for the children.

    Any good main characters should have a particular set of skills, yes, but they shouldn’t have so many in such a convenient niche that they never struggle with them. On top of making it way too convenient and impressive rather than run of the mill, I feel that the author missed a golden opportunity to bring up the fact that even masters of a skill set can and will struggle with their talents from time to time, especially if their skill is used to cater to the public, such as her talents as a barista.

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  5. Sakura's "strong-willed" behavior also irks me because I haven't seen it get her into actual trouble even once in the book. It seems that because she's so beautiful and smart everyone agrees with literally everything she does, especially because most of the things she does is for the good of others. I would actually categorize her as an even bigger push over than a good two thirds of reverse harem females that you claim to be weak-willed because if you look at the stories where the heroine lets herself get pushed around it’s usually because she likes one or more of the male leads and wants to impress them. Sakura claims to hate the brothers for what they’ve done to her in her childhood (something that was never expanded upon) and yet still lets herself get followed around and pushed into situations she doesn’t want to be in.

    The only situation in which I can remember her being independent is the whole money situation. I can….kind of understand her wanting to be financially independent but let’s be honest, if you were the adopted child of an incredibly wealthy family who was willing to support you in your quest to find your birth mother (poorly thought out plan to just hop on a plane and go to Japan to find her when she was left in America, by the way. There are people who can track her down for you.) is it independent or stupid to try and do it all on your own? For that matter, if she wants financial independence why is she living at home? Another question is why does she stop doing photography when the brothers show up? I think it’s a good idea for a plot point that is again, poorly executed.

    What I would have loved to see was her saying "Fuck no. Fuck this. Fuck you. Leave me the fuck alone." when her brothers pushed her into situations that she didn't want to be in or when they intruded on events and situations where she obviously didn't want them to be there. If she was treated so poorly as a child by them I wouldn't see a reason for her /not/ to do that. But seeing as she didn't actually stand up for herself a single time (I don't count her telling her sisters that she didn't have to leave because she lived in her home too standing up for herself, I consider that a normal interaction with someone who's being an ass) I wouldn't dare categorize her as a strong-willed character.

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  6. If you want a strong-willed character try reading homestuck past act 5. Every female character strands up for what they believe in at least once, even if they don’t come out and yell at their aggressor like Jade Harley does. There are a thousand different ways to represent a strong female lead (Rose with her sass, Vriska with her trickery, Terezi using her blindness as a tool instead of letting it disable her) and I think Homestuck showcases a good deal of these quite well without sacrificing romance or making the females any less desirable. In fact, Jade was shown as one of the more desirable characters (three character have been known to like her and two more are speculated to) and she has buck teeth and big circle glasses and fucking /narcolepsy/. Try reading Gunnerkrigg Court if you don’t like homestuck. Antominy stands up for herself despite people not agreeing with her.. Try reasing Ava's Demon past the third chapter. Read Looking For Group.

    If webcomics aren't your thing watch firefly. All of the females there are strong-willed. The walking dead for the most part is /full/ of strong-willed characters, both male and female that are both good and bad. New Girl’s Jess is quirky and odd and strong willed because she does what she thinks is right even if she has to fight for it.

    If you want someone a bit more demure look at Luna Lovegood. She's quite quiet and a bit quirky, yes, but she's no less strong-willed than Hermione. Their skills and way of doing things are just very very different. If you want to go onto a different kind of book look at Katniss Everdeen. She does to war and even though she wins does she come out unscathed? No. She comes out scarred and brutalized and deaf in one ear and she wakes up with nightmares. She leaves the arena jaded and even though many people put a slant on the Hunger Games to be about romance, it is a book about war with a side of romance and a very strong female lead.

    The thing about strong-willed characters and especially female characters is that they stand by their decision even if it wasn't something that was morally good. They take whatever path they damn well please no matter how many people disagree or try to talk them out of it. They tend to get into fights and wind up doing some pretty dumb things sometimes but they stand by whatever they've decided. The only real decision Sakura made was to not get bullied anymore. Which she didn't follow through on, by the way. Running away to make people’s lives quote quote “better” was not strong, it was selfish, especially when she knew how the male leads and her adoptive parents felt about her.

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  7. I also realized as I was writing this that Sakura didn’t have to do anything besides look pretty to make the brothers (all seven of them no less) fall in love with her. It’s a bland view on the entire situation and I would have much rather liked to see two or three of them fall in love with the little things she does rather than all seven with her looks. I would have preferred a story where the brothers start with distaining her and then slowly build a familial bond over games in the dining room and shared interests. I would have loved for two or three of them to all notice different things and slowly fall in love with her one piece at a time until they’re enamored with the way she crinkles her nose or how she only plays with her hair when she’s embarrassed. I wanted a good mix of family and romance out of this book and I got too much romance in an incredibly sloppy manner.

    I honestly wouldn’t recommend this book and it confuses me as to why you do, but to each their own I guess.

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  8. As soon as I read your review I went and made myself an account on Wattpad and I read the book in 3 days (It's still on Wattpad)!!!! It was one of my favourite novel! I loved the description and the different POV it all blended in really well! :)

    I am currently reading the second book (which is also on Wattpad) however it's not completed and is actually on hiatus but I'm still hoping for an update!! :D really a good read :)

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