This is my stop during the blog tour for the Nogiku series by SJ Pajonas. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours . The blog tour runs from January 20 till February 2, you can view the complete tour schedule on the Nogiku series blog tour page on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
So far this series contains two book: Removed (Nogiku series #1) and Released (Nogiku series #2).I’ll share links to my reviews of both books and the author has written an awesome tens list/ guest post about bento boxes and her ten favourite things to put in them. And there is tour wide giveaway!
Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything. Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyo. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yusei. Nishikyo, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave. Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyo in danger.
You can read my review of Removed here
You can watch the trailer for Removed here:
**Contains spoilers for those who have not read REMOVED (Book 1) Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyo recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yusei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs. Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her? From Nishikyo to Yusei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.
You can read my review of Released here
You can find Released on Goodreads
And now it’s time for SJ Pajonas her guest post about bento boxes and the top ten things to put in them!
What are bento boxes?
Bento boxes are the equivalent of a packed lunch. The boxes themselves come in all shapes and sizes, some with compartments or little plastic lidded containers to hold a multitude of food. Bento boxes can be utilitarian or they can be fun! I’m dying to own a really cute Hello Kitty bento box with matching chopsticks. Collecting bento boxes could easily be an obsession of mine. I really need to stay away from ebay.
In REMOVED, Sanaa is always on the go. The poor thing barely has time to eat much less date or have any kind of life outside of what Mark Sakai has tasked her to do. Sanaa relies on bento boxes for breakfast to get in a quick meal. Her favorite breakfast item is inarizushi which is sushi rice stuffed in a thin fried tofu wrapper that is both salty and sweet. I love these too. I wish I could eat them every morning for breakfast!
In general, a bento lunch will have at least 3 items but most likely more. Noodles or rice, salad, fish or meat, vegetables, dumplings, sushi… The variety is staggering. And a well-prepared meal by mom or a significant other conveys their love to you through food. What’s better than that?So, to get you started, here are my top ten bento box ideas:
10. Leftovers – I know this sounds like a cheat but it’s really the best way to get your bento started. You had beef stew last night for dinner, so put that in the box, add fresh carrots, a wedge of cheese, a packet of crackers, and a cookie and you’re good to go.
9. Onigiri – This is a Japanese staple food! Rice balls usually stuffed with something. You can stuff yours with cooked tuna or salmon, or try seaweed, or slice up some cucumbers and avocado to go inside. Buy a onigiri mold because they really help to get the ball into a shape for placing in your bento. Tip: place sheets of nori on the side to wrap your rice ball before eating. Don’t wrap them ahead of time! The nori will be wilted and tough to eat if it gets moist.
8. Hard-boiled eggs – And not just any hard-boiled eggs, get some egg molds! Ebay has hundreds of these and you can also buy them on Amazon. When you make your hard-boiled eggs, peel them while they’re still hot and press them into the mold. It’s important to do this while they’re still warm, otherwise it won’t work well.
7. Sliced meats – Or if you’re a vegetarian, your usual protein like baked tofu or even the fake deli meats, if you enjoy them. A protein in the meal that you can either handle with your fingers or chopsticks is a great addition.
6. Assortment of cut vegetables – Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes. If you like Asian vegetables, go with seaweed salad, cooked lotus root, or bamboo shoots.
5. Veggie Sushi – Sushi is pretty easy to make at home. You’ll need sushi rice, nori, your vegetable of choice (avocado, carrots, cucumber, etc), and sushi rice seasonings (rice vinegar, sugar, salt). Cook your sushi rice in the rice cooker and add the seasoning. Then you can use plastic wrap and nori to roll it up. Here is one of many of great videos on Youtube to help.
4. Fried noodles – Go Asian and make fried noodles! I like these because they taste good cold. I’ll admit these fried noodles using packaged ramen look awesome. And these Supreme Soy Sauce Fried Noodles look like a winner as well.
3. Cut Sandwiches – Take you favorite sandwiches and cut them down to a more manageable size. Either slice them in half diagonally or use a large cookie cutter to spruce them up a bit.
2. A small dessert – I like to add a few packaged cookies or treats. Nothing too big. Fruit is also a good choice.
1. Create a theme – This is where it gets fun. Look through the Japanese Bento Box Ideas Pinterest board I made and get a feel for bentos that are themed. Lots of people do this as a hobby! Hello Kitty, Bunnies, Totoro, Cats, Hearts, Flowers, Ninjas… Whatever your passion, you can make it happen in a bento.
Hopefully these give you some ideas! If you’re wary of making your own, your local Japanese restaurant will usually have lunch bentos specials. Try one out!
Here are some great Japanese food blogs too, to get you started:
– La Fuji Mama – Rachael, an American woman that lived in Japan, dishes out fantastic and easy meals with a heavy emphasis on Japan (she also cooks many cuisines from around the world)
– Just Hungry/Just Bento – These two blogs will give you everything you need to know about Japanese food and plenty of recipes to make.
– Humble Bean Blog – I love this blog because it’s divided easily into the types of recipes available. You’ll find a recipe for each part of your kaiseki meal here!
– Happy Little Bento
– Bento Monsters
About the Author:
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.