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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Legendary

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Caraval. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Legendary was written by Stephanie Garber and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel that forms the second part of the Caraval series, following on from precisely where Caraval (2017) left off. Because of this, you do really need to read the novels in sequence to have any idea of what’s going on. The final instalment of the series – provisionally titled Finale – is expected to be released in 2019.

With the help of the mysterious Legend and his Caraval, Donatella Dragna managed to escape her father and save her sister from an arranged marriage. However, all of that has come at a price. It was made possible by the sway of a mysterious friend and now he wishes for payment. There is only one thing that the stranger wants is Legend’s true name. Unfortunately for Tella, that is a closely guarded secret.

It comes as a surprise when Legend announces that there will be another Caraval, only days after the previous one ended. This one is to take place in the opulent city of Valendia to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Empress Elantine. When Tella learns that the victor this time will meet Legend in person, she knows that she has found her chance. All she has to do is win the Caraval and she will be able to pay her debt.

Yet Tella should have known that nothing is ever easy. The Caraval this time is very different and feels more real than ever before. Tella soon realises that it is not just her life that is in danger but those of every person in the city. Legend became a master magician by stealing power from a pantheon of immortal beings, and now they want it back…

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Cell 7

Cell 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2016. It is a dystopian thriller set in the not too distant future, where the court system has been abolished at all crimes are judged by the general public in the form of a reality TV show. The novel forms the first part of the Cell 7 Trilogy and is followed by Day 7 (2017) and Final 7 (2018).

Almost everyone agreed that the court system didn’t work. How else could you explain why so many high-profile killers seemed to get off scot-free? Everyone could see that the new system was an improvement. Each convict was placed into the Cells, moving each day until they were placed in Cell 7 – the execution chamber. Over this time, their story was broadcasted to the public on Death is Justice – a reality TV show that allowed them to vote on whether they thought that the accused was innocent or guilty. It’s clear that the new system works much better than the old. In over two thousand cases, only fifty have ever been found innocent.

When Jackson Paige is murdered, the whole country is shocked. Jackson is one of the most beloved celebrities, known for his charity work and the fact that he even adopted his son from the High Rises, England’s poorest area. His killer – Martha Honeydew – was born in the Rises and was found holding the gun, declaring her guilt. There is no need to review any evidence. As Martha is placed in Cell 1 the polls start out at 97% guilty and there’s no reason why they would ever shift.

However, Eve Stanton has her doubts. As Martha’s councillor, she is the only person who is allowed to speak with the accused and she has reason to believe that Martha is lying to protect someone. As Eve investigates Martha’s past, she learns that there is more to the case than meets the eye. Jackson Paige is not who he seemed and has some surprising ties to Martha. The only trouble is proving it. How can Eve save Martha from the wrath of the public, when Martha insists that she is guilty?

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Charmcaster

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:

Spellslinger | Shadowblack

Charmcaster was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2018. It is the third instalment of the Spellslinger series and follows on directly where the previous two – Spellslinger (2017) and Shadowblack (2017) – left off, so you really do need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them. The story follows the continuing adventures of Kellen, an exiled spellslinger, as he avoids bounty hunters and seeks to protect the innocent people who have been unknowingly targeted by the Jan’Tep.

As Kellen, Ferius and Reichis cross the desert, they come across an unfortunate Jan’Tep bounty hunter who has been targeted by a band of Berabesq devouts. Although Kellen is keen to let them suffer, Ferius’s Argosi ways prevent her from standing idly by and she rushes to the rescue. Kellen is shocked to discover that the victim is not a hunter at all, but is his former crush, Nephenia, who has also been left disfigured and exiled by the Jan’Tep. However, their reunion is cut short. Ferius is badly injured and in desperate need of medical attention.

As Ferius recovers, she is approached by a pair of Argosi who have a discordance for her, bearing the image of a mechanical bird. This card leads her to Gitabria – a technologically advanced city of research and innovation, where they witness the unveiling of the bird. However, even at a glance, the party know that something is seriously wrong. The bird is not simply a machine – it seems to have a consciousness of its own.

As all nations begin bidding on the bird, Kellen realises the true danger of the creation. While the bird is innocent in itself, if others knew how to build it they could apply the principles to larger and more powerful machines. It’s not long before the Jan’Tep find Kellen and offer him a proposition. Either he destroys the bird and its engineer, or they will allow his innocent friends to suffer.

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The Glass Republic

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The City’s Son. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Glass Republic was written by Tom Pollock and first published in 2013. It is an urban fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl’s adventure into a dystopian mirror world. The novel forms the second part of the The Skyscraper Throne series and carries on from where The City’s Son (2012) left off, so you need to read the books in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on. The final instalment of the series – Our Lady of the Streets – was published in 2014.

Parva Khan, known as Pen to her friends, has returned to school a changed person. Her torture at the coils of the Wire Mistress has left her physically and mentally scarred and, without Beth for company, she no longer has anyone to hang around with. Her only friend is Parva – the girl in the mirror. Parva was created when Pen’s reflection was caught between two mirrors and has made a life for herself in the world behind the mirror, London-Under-Glass.

However, Parva’s life is shrouded in mystery. She hints to Pen that she has gotten a job somewhere but then disappears without a trace, leaving behind unmistakable signs of a struggle. Pen knows that she has to find some way to get to London-Under-Glass to save her sister but no one has ever travelled through the mirrors before. The only creatures that know how are the Chemical Synod and Pen knows from experience that their price could be more than she can pay.

Meanwhile, Beth is undergoing some strange changes. When her teeth start to turn into church spires, she realises that the transformation that Fil bought for her has not completed itself. However, some of Beth’s allies are concerned about what she is becoming. The similarities between her and Mater Viae are unmistakable, and there are those who do not wish for Our Lady of the Streets to return…

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The Chaos of Now

The Chaos of Now was written by Erin Lange and is due for release in October 2018. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a group of hackers who are out for revenge against the bullies in their school. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

The life of Eli Bennett and every other teenager changed on the day that Jordan Bishop set himself on fire. Although no one was ever blamed for his death, it quickly became common knowledge that he was bullied online. New legislations were passed to allow schools to become cyber snoops and strict punishments were levelled against any student who rebelled against these oppressive laws.

As a young hacker, Eli has more reason to hate the laws the most. He feels that the laws restrict his fundamental freedoms and its not long before he finds some like-minded allies in his school. His friendship with Seth and Mouse starts out as a project – an attempt to enter a nationwide programming contest – but, through this, the Friends of Bishop are born.

The Friends of Bishop gives voice to students, providing a place online where they can anonymously upload videos that shame bullies. It seems like harmless fun at first – the only way that most students will ever get a chance to have revenge against their tormentors – but its not long before things get out of hand. Eli is desperate to pull the plug before things get worse but he quickly realises that his friends have other plans. How far will Seth and Mouse go to have their revenge against the people who drove Jordan to suicide?

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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

Beetle Boy

Beetle Boy was written by M.G. Leonard and first published in 2016. It is a science-fiction / fantasy novel aimed at middle grade readers which tells the story of a boy’s adventures with a super intelligent rhinoceros beetle. The novel forms the first part of The Battle of the Beetles series and is followed by Beetle Queen (2017) and Battle of the Beetles (2018).

Darkus Cuttle is pretty content with his life until the day that his father vanishes. No one is sure exactly how he came to disappear from inside a locked room in London’s Natural History Museum, but everyone seems to have a theory. Some believe that he was murdered, others believe that he ran away. Darkus refuses to believe any of this. He knows that his father wouldn’t abandon him. The only trouble is that he has no idea what could have happened to him.

Darkus is sent to live with his closest relative, an archaeologist that he knows as Uncle Max, and it is there that he makes a discovery that will change his life. He sees a giant beetle fall out of the trouser leg of his disgusting new neighbour and quickly takes it home as a pet. The beetle – Baxter – turns out to be a species of rhinoceros beetle that is not native to England. Stranger still, it seems to be trying to communicate with him.

With the help of Uncle Max, Baxter and his two new school friends, Virginia and Bertolt, Darkus begins to investigate his father’s disappearance. The clues all point to the famous fashionista Lucretia Cutter – a woman renowned for making creepy clothing out of insects. However, Lucretia also seems to have an odd interest in Darkus’s neighbours. Can Darkus uncover her secret plan, save his father and protect the rare beetles that call his street a home?

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Leah on the Offbeat

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Leah on the Offbeat was written by Becky Albertalli and first published in 2018. It is a work of contemporary fiction that focuses on a bisexual girl developing a crush on one of her friends. The story is part of the Creekwood series and takes place a year after Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015), however it does largely stand alone and could probably be fully enjoyed even if you haven’t read this book.

Leah Burke has known that she was bisexual for years but has never told any of her friends. Even though they were all supportive when they learned that Simon was gay, she’s always been paranoid that they would act differently to her. It’s never seemed very important anyway. She’s never had a relationship with anyone as she’s just not that kind of person. She’s more interested in her fandoms and drawing than being all lovey-dovey like her friends Nick and Abby.

However, the end of high school is drawing closer and now all that anyone can think about is the Prom. The need to find dates and plan their final blow-out is putting tension on everyone and cracks are starting to form in their friendship group. Leah breaks off a friendship with one friend after she makes a racist comment, Nick and Abby’s relationship starts to fall apart, and Garret actually asks Leah to the Prom. While Leah accepts his promposal, she immediately starts to regret her decision. She doesn’t really like Garret in that way and he seems to be getting really into it.

But more complicated still is her friendship with Abby. While Leah and Abby used to be good friends, they haven’t been close in over a year. Now, both of them have discovered that they’re going to be at the same university and Abby is keen for them to take a road trip together to check it out. Leah’s life seems to be spiralling out of control and she’s not sure what to do to keep things together. How can she cope with the fact that the end of the year is looming and nothing will ever be the same again?

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Inferno

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:

Talon | Rogue | Soldier | Legion

Inferno was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2018. It is a paranormal story with elements of romance set in a world where shape-shifted dragons live among us in secret. The novel forms the final part of The Talon Saga, following after Talon (2014), Rogue (2015), Soldier (2016) and Legion (2017). Because of this, you really do need to read the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

The final battle has begun. Although Ember and the rogue dragons managed to defend the Western Chapterhouse, the Order of Saint George was still decimated by the Vessels. Without their skills and weapons, it seems certain that Talon will bring the human world to its knees. However, when all hope is lost, the rogues learn that they have an ally in an unexpected place. One who also has no love for the Elder Wyrm.

Their new benefactor is not willing to risk himself directly but does give the rogues a vital piece of information – the location of the facility where the breeder dragons are kept. For Riley, this is a dream come true. Not only can he finally achieve his goal of liberating the captive females but he is certain that they will want to join their cause to have revenge on Talon.

But rescuing them will not be easy. The facility is on a remote island, protected by soldiers and adult dragons. To make matters worse, the Elder Wyrm is planning her final strike and recognises that the rogues and remaining members of the Order are the only things that stand in her way. She sets in motion a plan to destroy them all. How can Ember’s band of hatchlings and humans hope to withstand the terrifying might of a dragon who is hundreds of years old?

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