The Sword of Kuromori

The Sword of Kuromori was first published in 2014 and is Jason Rohan’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story set in Japan, focusing on a teenager who discovers that he is destined to save America from a great disaster. The novel forms the first part of the Sword of Kuromori series and is followed by The Shield of Kuromori (2015) and The Stone of Kuromori (2017).

Kenny Blackwood is on his way to stay with his father in Japan for the holidays, but hasn’t even set foot on Japanese soil when strange things begin to happen. When he blows on a wooden whistle – an odd gift from his eccentric grandfather – a strange creature appears on the plane that only he seems to be able to see. Things get weirder when he is immediately stopped at customs and arrested, but subsequently rescued by a motorbike riding ninja.

Unbeknownst to Kenny, he has become tangled in events that his grandfather set in motion years before. At a time when American soldiers had stolen many priceless antiquities from the Japanese people, his grandfather, known as Kuromori, was responsible for hiding one of the most valuable of all – a magical sword created by the Goddess Amaterasu. Now, the sword is the only thing that can stop a terrible monster from laying waste to America. The only problem is, no one knows where Kuromori hid it.

With the help of Kiyomi – a girl who has devoted her life to training in both the martial and mystical arts – Kenny sets off on an adventure across Japan, fighting monstrous yōkai and learning how to use powers that he never knew he had. He soon learns that he has inherited his grandfather’s title and all the baggage that comes with it. Unfortunately, this includes a prophecy that indicates that one of his loved ones could soon die…

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Secrets and Sapphires

Secrets and Sapphires (also known as Cinders and Sapphires in America) was written by Leila Rasheed and first published in 2013. It is a historical romance set in 1912 that focuses on the lives of the people who live on a wealthy English estate. The novel forms the first part of the At Somerton series and is followed by Diamonds and Deceit (2014) and Emeralds and Ashes (2015).

For the first time in years, Lord Westlake and his family have returned from India to their ancestral home of Somerton. However, he has brought with him a surprise. The Lord is to be wed to the affluent Fiona Templeton, and Lord Westlake’s two daughters – Ada and Georgiana – now must grow accustomed to sharing their father with Fiona’s three children.

Life on the estate seems simple and glamorous for the young ladies who live there however, as Ada prepares for her coming out, she increasingly realises that life is more complex than she first imagined. She has two ambitions in life – to study at Oxford University and to marry her true love, Ravi, yet neither can be. As the heir to Somerton she is expected to marry someone wealthy and maintain the family name. Ravi is a penniless Indian scholar and her reputation would be ruined if anyone found out.

However, Ada is not the only person with a secret. Beneath the glamour and civility of Somerton, almost everyone is hiding something. Ambition, forbidden love and dangerous secrets are rampant and, if they were to be discovered, would spell destruction a dozen times over for the name of Westlake. However, there are always those who are desperate to profit from a good scandal… More

Lumberjanes: The Moon Is Up

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2018. It follows on directly from where the first novel of the series – Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! (2017) – left off, as the girls encounter a mysterious creature in the forest. The series is a spin-off of the award winning Lumberjanes comic and is aimed at middle grade readers.

April, Mal, Molly, Ripley and Jo are about to take part in the camp’s first ever Galaxy Wars. The series of events are designed to test each cabin’s intelligence and teamwork as they battle win a unique badge and a spot in the Lumberjanes hall of fame. However, they will have their work cut out for them. Their rivals in Zodiac cabin also have their heart set on the prize and are determined to win.

However, one of the Roanoke scouts does not have her heart in the game. Jo has recently received a letter that invites her to take part in a special research programme, but if she accepts she will have to leave the camp. The experience would be life-changing, but she’s not sure how she can break the subject of leaving with her BFF, April.

The letter isn’t the only thing that is troubling Jo. She still isn’t sure whether or not she dreamed seeing an odd spacecraft land in the woods. Things soon start to get weird around the camp as their copious supplies of cheese begin to mysteriously disappear. It’s not long before the Lumberjanes find the culprit but discover that she has problems of her own. Will the Lumberjanes help their new friend and win the contest, and is this the last adventure that they will have together?

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The Beneath

The Beneath was written by S.C. Ransom and first published in 2015. It is an urban fantasy story with horror elements that focuses on a teenage girl who discovers the existence of a dystopian community living beneath the streets of London. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lily has been having a rough time of it at school. She used to be rich and popular but the her parents lost everything. Now she lives with her Nan and everyone that she used to call a friend has turned against her. However, everything changes for Lily when she saves Aria from being hit by a train.

Aria is more than a little strange. She can’t read and seems confused by everything, from televisions to dogs. Lily soon learns that this is because she is seeing them for the first time. Aria has escaped from the Community – a group of people who have lived beneath London for centuries. In their culture, everything is dictated to them by the Farmer, who is the one person with control of the Crop – a deadly entity that keeps them all safe so long as they obey the Farmer’s strict rules to the letter.

Aria knows that she will be killed if she returns to the Community yet is torn by her sense of duty. She only came to the surface in the first place because she had been sent on a mission by Dane, the boy that she loves. Dane believes that the only person who can overthrow the Farmer lives on the surface but now Aria isn’t sure that she can go through with his plan. What would Lily say if she learned that Aria had only come to the surface to kidnap her?

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

As you can see, today I’m taking another look at the Harry Potter series. I suppose that means that this is another milestone review! It’s hard to believe it but this post marks the 400th novel that I have review on this site. Thank-you all for your continuing support!

Anyhow, on with the review. As I expect that most of you have already read this book, please note that this post contains massive, massive spoilers. In case you’re not familiar with this novel (for example, if you’ve been living in a submarine since the late 90s), the Harry Potter series is a worldwide phenomenon which was penned by J.K. Rowling. The main series consists of seven novels – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). This has been further supplement by a number of short-stories and plays that further expand the world.

Harry Potter has always hated spending his holidays at the Dursleys but this summer has been the worst yet. His friends seem to have forgotten all about him and he’s largely been forced to deal with his guilt over Cedric’s death alone. Everything seems to be crushingly mundane in Little Whinging until Harry and Dudley are suddenly attacked by two Dementors. Harry is forced to case his Patronus charm to save Dudley’s life. As doing so breaks the restriction for magic use by underage wizards, Harry finds himself on trial and risking expulsion from Hogwarts.

As Harry is whisked away to stay with Sirius while he awaits his trial, he is furious to find out that everyone he knows has been preparing for the battle against Voldemort without him. Dumbledore has made them all swear to keep him in the dark as they reformed the Order of the Phoenix – a secret society devoted to destroying the Death Eaters. It seems that the Order have discovered that Voldemort is searching for something and are intent on keeping him from obtaining it.

However, Harry also learns that he is no longer the golden boy of the wizarding world. Desperate to keep the truth about Voldemort from the world, the Ministry of Magic have publicly accused Dumbledore and Harry of lying and now portray him as an attention-seeking lunatic. When Harry returns to Hogwarts, he learns that the Ministry’s reach has even stretched as far as the school. Delores Umbridge – a ruthless Ministry official – is now the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and is intent on making some changes around the school…

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How I Live Now

How I Live Now was written by Meg Rosoff and first published in 2004. It is a work of speculative fiction, focusing on the experiences of a teenage girl in rural England as World War III breaks out. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it. It also won a number of literary awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Michael L Printz Award.

Daisy is fifteen-years-old and feels as though she has been utterly abandoned. Her father cares more about his pregnant wife than he does for her and has sent her away to live with her Aunt for the summer. Daisy finds this to be a bit of a culture shock at first. Not only has she been forced to trade Manhattan for the English countryside, but she has also got to get to know her four decidedly odd cousins – Osbert, Edmond, Isaac and Piper.

Luckily Daisy is quick to hit it off with her distant family, especially Edmond with whom she develops a mutual attraction. The summer seems to be perfect but everything changes when Aunt Penn leaves to attend a lecture in Oslo for a few days. It is over this time that the first bombs hit London and everything descends into chaos. The teenagers find themselves cut off from everything. Although the war has not reached them, they slowly begin to feel its impact through rationing and power failure to the village.

For a while, Daisy and her family are still happy and continue life as normal. However, that is before the army decide that they need to commandeer their house for a base. The girls and boys are split up and sent to different villages and everything suddenly becomes very real. Daisy and Piper know that they need to escape and find the boys, however how can they hope to do so when supplies are scarce and The Enemy could be anywhere?

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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow was written by Jessica Townsend and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy middle grade novel about a young girl who must pass four trials to gain membership of an elite organisation. The book forms the first part of the Nevermoor series and its sequel – provisionally titled Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow – is expected to be released later this year.

Morrigan Crow has not had a happy life. As a cursed child, she brings nothing but misery to those around her and knows that she is fated to die on the eve of Eventide, which is due to fall on her twelfth birthday. Unluckily for Morrigan, fate has other ideas. When Eventide unexpectedly falls a year early, she suddenly finds herself face to face with the terrifying Hunt of Smoke and Shadow.

However, Morrigan is rescued by an eccentric gentleman by the name of Jupiter North. Jupiter has selected Morrigan to be his first ever apprentice and he intends to enter her in the trials to become a member of the mysterious Wunder Society – an organisation of talented individuals who reside in the fantastical city of Nevermoor.

While Morrigan is thrilled to have escaped her fate, she soon realises that this may just be a stay of execution. She must compete for one of nice places against hundreds of other young applicants, all whom are more familiar with the oddities of Nevermoor than she is. If she fails at any point, she will be deported back to her home world and have to face the Hunt again. To make matters worse, every applicant must be able to prove that they have a special and useful talent. Unfortunately for Morrigan, she knows that she does not have one…

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Ruby in the Rough

Ruby in the Rough was written by Steven Ruby and first published in 2013. It is a work of contemporary fiction presented as a collection of short stories that illustrate key moments in the protagonist’s life as he grew up in rural America. The novel is a stand-alone story that does not form part of any series.

Steven Ruby has not had the best start in life. His father passed away from a sudden heart attack and his mother works very hard to provide for him and his sister, Katie. However, Steven is not one to complain. He is a bright and adventurous boy, and likes nothing more than exploring his neighbourhood and tinkering with anything that he can get his hands on – often with disastrous results.

Throughout the school year, Steven does his best to avoid falling foul of the local bully and ensure that his experiments do not land him in hospital. However, it is the holidays that he really lives for. It is during the holidays that he is allowed to stay with his Uncle George and help out on the ranch. Although life on the farm is tough, Steven admires his uncle more than anything and sometimes dreams of becoming a farmer just like him.

However, as Steven grows up, it starts to become clear that not all of his childhood dreams will follow him to adulthood. Steven must discover that life sometimes has other things in store for people, as he witnesses sudden changes in the circumstances of the people he is is close to and how they cope with them. The novel focuses on Steven from the age of eight through to young adulthood as he learns important life lessons and discovers the kind of man that he wants to be.

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Threadwalkers

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Threadwalkers hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

Threadwalkers was first published in 2017 and is Joanna Volavka’s debut novel. It is a science fiction story which focuses on a teenager whose life is literally unravelling before her very eyes. The book reads as though it is the first part of a series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Miranda Woodward was a child, she found that she could hear voices that no one else could. When she tried to tell others about this, she found that only her father believed her and eventually seemed to lose this ability altogether. However, following her father’s death, Miranda found that she started to hear the voices again. At the same time, her life suddenly took a turn for the strange.

The changes were small at first. Her cat vanished and was replaced by another, and the date of her father’s death became ten years prior rather than a few months. Nobody else noticed these inconsistencies and Miranda started to feel as though she was losing her mind. However, things quickly became more serious. People that she knew for her entire life began to forget her name and her mother disappeared without a trace.

With nowhere else to turn, Miranda follows a clue left by her father to a man who calls himself the Tailor. Only he can explain what is happening to her and give her the training that she needs to put everything right. However, even he cannot answer the great mystery that plagues her. Why is it that her father entrusted her with a spool of golden thread that only she can see?

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Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis

Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis was written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and first published in Japanese in 1991 as Pāfekuto Burū: Kanzen Hentai. It is a horror story that focuses on a young pop idol being stalked by a psychotic fan. The book was finally translated into English in 2018 and served as the inspiration for Satoshi Kon’s classic animated movie, Perfect Blue. The novel is followed by a spin-off anthology titled Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream which is due to be released in English later this year.

Mima Kirigoe has never been the most popular of pop idols in Japan, but she has still gained a small following of loyal fans. While she has never had much trouble with these, one has recently been causing her distress. Though largely harmless, he has been repeatedly calling her home and promising to “protect” her, and has recently been seen trying to gain access to her studio.

His persistence worries Mima a little, but she has bigger problems. Eri Ochiai – a new pop idol with a risqué image – has decided that Mima is her rival and has dedicated her life to ruining Mima’s career. Mima’s manager has decided that it’s time that she had a change of image to combat this and has suggested that she produce a photo book that presents her as being older and sexier. Mima really isn’t sure about this as she has built her career as being a traditional teen idol, yet as Eri ups her game she sees no choice but to take part.

However, this new sexy image for Mima drives her stalker over the edge. In a bid to save Mima by preserving her innocence, he sets out on a mission to kidnap his beloved idol. Is there any way that Mima can hope to survive when she does not even know what her stalker looks like?

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