Tag Archive | Japan

Shield of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – save all or save her?

book cover of Shield of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller | recommended on BooksYALove.comEvil ogres attacking Tokyo.
Ninja colleague not yet recovered.
Hero has to wonder who wins this time!

Second in the Kuromori Chronicles, raising the stakes even higher for prophesied warrior Kenny, as the teen soccer player starts learning new sword skills and how to ID evil beings in the supernatural line-up just as the bad guys try to remove him from the picture entirely!

I like that Kane-Miller asks folks to buy their books at a local independent bookstore rather than selling through their own website. Of course, you should ask for it at your local library also, so that more readers can enjoy this exciting series! (my recommendation of Book 1 here, with no spoilers)

After experiencing typhoon rains in Tokyo during my first week there, then an earthquake while waiting at the airport to leave, I can well imagine supernatural creatures below the earth or warring gods among the clouds!

Still wondering… any yokai (evil or benign) where you live?
**kmm

Book info:  Shield of Kuromori (Kuromori Chronicles, book 2) / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016. [series Facebook page]   [publisher site]   [distributor site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A new threat to his adoptive land and his ninja partner’s growing anger keep Kenny jumping as the young hero foretold in Japanese prophecy strives to master supernatural warfare, stay away from school bullies, and keep Kiyomi calm enough to fight by his side.

With Kiyomi’s behavior becoming more erratic, Kenny must decide whether to search for a way to cure her or to pursue the mysterious threat just uncovered by Japanese gods.

Who is so unleashing so many evil yokai at once?
Can two teenagers really save Japan from slow death?
A mirror or a shield?

Ancient Japanese stories, modern technology, and ages-old greed of man – all collide as Kiyomi and Kenny must unpuzzle this devious plot before evil wins the day. Follows The Sword of Kuromori in the series.

Birth of Kitaro, by Shigeru Mizuki (book review) – Japanese supernatural Yokai!

book cover of Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com Last of the ghost tribe yokai,
helped by his magic hair (and dead eyeball dad),
fighting evil beings in Japan!

While I didn’t meet any (obvious) supernatural beings during my recent trip to Japan, I am delighted to share this first volume in a new English translation of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro series. The Japanese manga master died in December 2015, leaving a legacy of yokai tales and other graphic novels, which Drawn & Quarterly is bringing to western readers.

Visit the publisher’s page here to download a free excerpt of Kitaro’s adventures. Next book in the series arrives soon!

Any supernatural folk in your neck of the woods?
**kmm

Book info: The Birth of Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro) / Shigeru Mizuki; text translated by Zack Davisson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [artist’s obituary]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting evil creatures is Kitaro’s specialty, but the one-eyed spirit boy and his eyeball-father aren’t always sure that the people of Japan are worth battling monstrous beings of legend.

Single-eyed newborn Kitaro digs out of his mother’s grave and quickly finds himself embroiled in struggles with malicious yokai who want to overrun modern Japan.

Can half-cat, half-girl Neko Mutsume help him outwit greedy Nezumi Otoko?
How long will his late father’s spirit animate the eyeball?
What’s the best way to banish a frightful buru-buru haunting the mountain highway?

Kitaro’s wooden geta sandals clip-clop away from each supernatural encounter, and a letter in just the right forest postbox will always bring him back, as these 7 episodes from his earliest manga appearances show. First in a series, with new English text by Zack Davisson complementing manga master Shigeru Mizuki’s well-loved illustrations.

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K for Kenny & the Sword of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – summoned to Japan against evil

book cover of Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller Books | BooksYALove.comMysterious messages and mythic messengers,
motorcycle ninjas and undead attackers,
dream visions and the end of the world?

Kenny never dreamed that his granddad’s diplomatic work in post-war Japan would bring him face-to-face today with villains (human and otherwise) who try to keep the teen from stopping worldwide destruction.

Check out the book’s Facebook page for a tour of sites and monsters found in book 1.  I’m traveling in Japan this summer, so I will see torii gates and temples, but hope that I don’t encounter any nukekubi!

Any multi-tailed foxes in your dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Sword of Kuromori / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016.  [series Facebook page]  [publisher site]  [author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kenny thinks he’ll finally meet up with his grieving father in Japan, but the British teen finds himself detained by government officials, rescued by his grandfather’s old allies, and expected to prevent the world’s destruction using a missing sword… in just nine days!

Maybe it starts with the raccoon-thing on the plane that only he can see, or maybe when the police stop him at the Tokyo airport, or when he’s snatched from them by a ninja on a motorcycle…

His grandfather’s connections with Japan from decades past help Kenny locate the fabled sword that shares his last name so he can learn its secrets and tap into its powers, for he is the only one who can stop a slumbering dragon from being awoken to destroy the world – it is prophesied.

Messages from spirit world allies arrive in his dreams, the daughter of grandfather’s old friend teaches him martial arts moves and essential Japanese phrases, and mythic beings try to kill them in broad daylight!

Who exactly is threatening the USA west coast with a tsunami?
How can an old sword stop an unearthly weapon?
Will Kenny ever see his dad again?

First in a series filled with Japanese culture and mythological creatures, questions about loyalty and family, plus lots of adventure and humor. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani (book review) – Dad’s secrets, her peril

book cover of Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani published by Tu Books | BooksYALove.comStepdad knew their late father?
Business trips were really what!?
Is that black SUV still following us?

When Claire discovers that her long-dead father was part of a Japanese organized crime gang, her whole world begins shaking – and here come the bad guys who want to make sure that the Utah teen goes under for good!

If your local library or independent bookstore doesn’t have this summer 2015 release on the shelf, ask for it!

Family secrets – key to one’s own history or ticking time-bomb?
**kmm

Book info: Ink and Ashes / Valynne E. Maetani. Tu Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Claire’s search for answers on the tenth anniversary of her father’s death inadvertently alerts the yakuza to her family’s location – and the race for survival is on!

The Japanese-American teen can’t believe that her stepfather knew her father and never told her, that a simple phone call could unleash a horde of bad guys intent on wiping out her family, that best buddy Forrest could think of her as more than a friend…

The letters that Claire wrote to Otochan in the years after his death appear throughout the book, as the straight-A student weathers accusations of cheating at school, uncovers many strange things about her late father, and must rely on her group of guy-friends more than ever when objects symbolizing death start arriving at her Utah home.

Why would Mom lie about her father’s past?
Why does the Japanese crime gang care about her family after all this time?
Can she stay alive long enough to figure out Forrest?

Action, intrigue, friendship, love, and revenge – watch out for black SUV following you!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

T is Tokyo in When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (book review) – love, loss, secrets

book cover of When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney published by Little Brown Books For Young ReadersEmpty home,
full medicine bottles,
not enough information!

Did Mom’s doctor in Japan convince her to stop taking traditional cancer treatments? Why else would she have died just weeks before Danny’s graduation, her big goal during her five year fight?

Kana is like a big sister to Danny in Tokyo as they visit the clinics and temples that Mom frequented. If only he could figure out what went wrong between him and love of his life Holland, who now wears a necklace honoring Sarah, her friend who died at college…

“All the things my mom will never see and never know flash before me. She will never know what I will study in college, who I’ll marry… She will never learn golf or qualify for a senior discount at the movies. She will never grow old,” Danny muses. (p. 206)

Find When You Were Here  at your local library or independent bookstore, and walk Tokyo’s busy streets with Danny as he tries reclaim the joy that his mom found in her too-short life. (paperback comes out June 24, 2014)

**kmm

Book info: When You Were Here / Daisy Whitney. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013 (paperback June 2014).  [author’s Twitter]  [publisher site]  [author in Tokyo videos] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Bereft and angry, Danny travels to Tokyo after graduation, trying to discover why his mom gave up fighting her cancer just two months short of their shared goal.

Even though she was a year older, Holland was perfect for Danny, but when she left for college last fall, she broke up with him, never giving a reason.

His parents did business in Japan, Danny was born there, his dad died suddenly there six years ago. His mom spent her final cancer treatment time there, before returning home to enjoy the last days of her life.

When the young woman who helped his mom in Tokyo asks Danny what’s to be done about Mom’s apartment there, he decides to leave the empty, memory-filled California house (and not-girlfriend-now Holland, home from college) to spend time in Japan and find out what changed his mother’s mind about holding on until he graduated.

Secrets are powerful. Death is inevitable, but perhaps love and hope are possible in this strongly emotional novel where an unconventional Japanese girl and the scent of lilacs help an angry young man search for answers. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Cheers to authors from Down Under! (fiction) – Australia Day

Australia Day is tomorrow, so let’s look at some great BooksYALove by authors from Down Under.

book cover of Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

Cristy Burne writes adventurous tales about Miku who encounters many creatures from Japanese folklore, like Takeshita Demons (my review) who followed her family to London and  The Filth-Licker (review here) that her classmates meet up with at camp.

Not sure if Sherryl Clark herself has heard the dead, but her character Sasha in Dying to Tell Me  (my review) certainly can! Visions of blood and death in sleepy little Manna Creek at the edge of the Outback…

A being condemned to inhabit another body as camouflage, over and over; she calls herself Mercy  (my review) in the first book of the series by Rebecca Lim. Book 2, Exile, is in my overflowing to-be-read pile and promises a few more clues about who Mercy might be and why she’s existing this way.

book cover of Butterflies by Susanne Gervay published by Kane Miller

Only males may become Dragoneye lords, but one young woman knows she has the power to mind-link with dragons in Alison Goodman’s Eon  (my review) and must save her world in Eona  (my review), both now available in paperback.

Susanne Gervay interviewed many teen burn patients as she wrote Butterflies (my review), which follows Katherine through surgery, school worries, and her choices for the future.

She expected snow, festivals and historic shrines, but there was no way to predict that Hannah’s Winter (my review) in Japan would include ancient evil spirits and a donut-throwing ghost! Kierin Meehan packs plenty of mystery and historical tidbits into this intriguing story.

book cover of I Lost My Mobile at the Mall by Wendy Harmer published by Kane Miller

Elly has such bad luck! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, she cries to her parents, who tell her that she’s not getting another cell phone from them. Wendy Harmer ably turns her comic touch to this too-common young adult crisis (my review).

The Reformed Vampire Support Group  by Catherine Jinks got to the bestseller list, but I snuck it onto BooksYALove anyway. Be sure you meet this Sydney self-help group that finally has to venture out of its decades-old comfort zone to help someone else (my review).

Mary Arrigan follows a family from Ireland’s Potato Famine to the goldfields of Australia in historical fiction of a time period that we usually don’t see. Surely the dream of Etsy’s Gold  (my review) can come true if they work hard enough?

book cover of The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar published by Candlewick

A gentle story of love, loss, and friendship starts and ends in the mural-painted rooms of The Visconti House  in a quiet Australian country town – my review of Elsbeth Edgar’s debut novel here.

Stolen: a Letter to my Captor, by Lucy Christopher, might be the scariest book on this list, as it tells of a carefully plotted kidnapping that lands Gemma far, far in the Outback in terrible danger (my review).

Check out these stellar books from Aussie authors today at your local library or independent bookstore!

**kmm

These are among the 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com. All review copies and cover images courtesy of their respective publishers.

Way of the Dragon, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – old Japan, new civil war, teen samurai

book cover of Way of the Dragon by Chris Bradford published by Disney Hyperion

Try to imagine being suddenly stranded half a world away from home, in a land where conformity is prized, where obedience is rewarded, where rigorous training from childhood ensures future success.

Jack’s amazing story begins with The Way of the Warrior  (book 1 reviewed) and continues in The Way of the Sword  (book 2 reviewed), your best introductions to the social structure, customs, and political unrest facing the young English teen in 17th century Japan.

Jump back into a foreign and fascinating world with the Young Samurai at your local library or independent bookstore

**kmm

Book info: The Way of the Dragon (Young Samurai, book 3) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2011.  [author’s website] [publisher site

My Recommendation:  Like juggling knives in a storm – learning the Two Heavens technique is that difficult for Jack. But war looms over Japan in 1613, so he and his friends at samurai school must master the secret sword moves soon.
When he was tossed ashore after ninja pirates hijacked the English ship his father was piloting and wrecked it, Jack couldn’t have imagined this – being adopted by an influential warrior family, learning intricate Japanese language and customs, attending samurai school. Many still sneeringly call him ‘gaijin’ because of his foreign appearance, but those who have seen his fighting skills respect the blond-haired teen.
Now one regional daimyo is gathering troops to attack the Emperor! The daimyo who sponsors Masamoto’s samurai school is loyal to the Son of Heaven, so all his warriors must rush to defend the capital of Osaka. Suddenly “the way of the dragon” is more than daily classes, as martial arts practice becomes urgent, their sword skills are honed, and Jack’s group takes every opportunity to perfect their moves with bo stick or arrow or throwing star.
The noise and dust of the battlefield is tremendous – here, the students’ abilities to concentrate under pressure will mean the difference between life and death. They must protect the future emperor at any cost. If the fighting reaches the tower stronghold that they defend, then only their cleverness and skill will keep the empire from falling into chaos.
Jack still longs to recover his father’s encoded navigation atlas from the one-eyed ninja who stole it. That rutter would allow Jack to pilot any ship away from Japan to his English home port –and back again, defying the Emperor’s command that foreigners stay away. But the evil ninja  DragonEye is not content with stealing Jack’s map home; he wants Jack’s lifeblood as well.
Can Jack and the samurai students keep the young ruler alive? Is there a traitor in their ranks?
Will the assassin DragonEye strike during the confusion of battle?

This exciting third book in the Young Samurai series brings readers into the closed society of 17th century Japan with every swordstroke and ceremonial bow. Be sure to start Jack’s amazing story from the beginning with The Way of the Warrior (book 1) and The Way of the Sword (book 2). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

The Filth Licker, by Cristy Burne (fiction) – Japanese demons attack British school camp!

book cover of Filth Licker by Cristy Burne published by Frances Lincoln

A week at camp with school chums means bonfires,
ghost stories, silly pranks,
demon attacks?

Away from the protective pillar in her family’s home back in Japan, Miku is accosted by yokai, unearthly spirits ranging from annoying to deadly. And away from London, with just a few teacher-chaperones, Miku’s classmates will find more in the forest than normal foxes and badgers.

Cursed tofu and Shape Shifters, an amnesia attack on her best friend, sickle weasels and a yuki-onna – maybe the seventh graders should have stayed at school!

Grab the first Takeshita Demons  book (my recommendation here) at your local library or independent bookstore along with The Filth Licker  (#2). You ought to get Monster Matsuri  (#3) while you’re there – you know that the demons will keep chasing Miku and her friends!

Hmmm…and perhaps you’d consider having a toad-shaped aka-na-me in your bathroom to slurp up mold and soap scum, right?
**kmm

Book info: The Filth Licker (Takeshita Demons #2) / Cristy Burne; illustrated by Siku. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2011.  [author’s website] [publisher site

My Recommendation:  A week at camp should be great, but Miku senses demons lurking in the forest. Cait scoffs at her – until the ghost stories told by school friends around the bonfire start coming true!
Ever since Miku’s family moved from their ancestral Japanese home to London, evil spirits have targeted them. So the young teen brings protective charms to camp, along with all the stories and knowledge of the supernatural shared by her grandmother before they left for England.
Of course, nothing can keep Alex from calling her names or stop goofy Oscar from eating anything offered (eww, now he has a stinky black rash!). No one could predict that they’d find a red aka-na-me Filth Licker in the boys’ bathroom, or that its pet keukegen might innocently attract malicious ShapeShifters to camp.
When the campers’ round-robin ghost stories accidentally complete an ancient ritual, the woods become alive with evil spirits in animal bodies, trickster sprites rain down stinging sand from the trees, and Cait’s memory starts to blank out. And somehow, Alex stops teasing Miku and starts helping her track down the forest demons before they can get the rest of their friends.
Which animals will the demons use for their attack? Have the ShapeShifters already taken over any of the campers? Can Miku and friends turn back these evil forces before it’s too late?

Second in the Takeshita Demons’ series, The Filth Licker is followed by Monster Matsuri (#3) as Miku continues to face ancient evil Japanese spirits in a modern world.  (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Way of the Sword, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – English teen, feudal Japan, samurai school challenges

book cover of Way of the Sword bk 2 Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford published by Disney Hyperion

Japan is closed to the outside world in the 1600s.
Foreigners can see little, learn even less.
But shipwrecked Jack is adopted by a samurai warrior,
training in the samurai ways,
his blond hair drawing attention he would rather avoid,
as a mortal enemy stalks him in the shadows.

In unskilled hands, samurai swords can draw blood from allies as well as enemies, so Jack and his friends must train, train, train to master their weapons – and their emotions.

Will Jack’s growing samurai skills ever overcome the prejudice of those who think foreign ‘gaijin’ should be gone from Japan forever?

This swashbuckling Young Samurai series is available now at your local library or independent bookstore – start with book 1 – The Way of the Warrior (my no-spoiler recommendation here) to learn first-hand how blond, blue-eyed Jack found himself swept into life in feudal Japan.
**kmm

Book info: The Way of the Sword (Young Samurai, book 2) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: For English teen Jack, a year in samurai school in 1620s Japan has taught him much, but not yet enough to defend himself against classmates who consider it disgraceful that a ‘gaijin’ foreigner learns the samurai ways. No matter that his adoptive father founded the school or that Masamoto is still considered the finest samurai and best swordsman of their time. Now Masamoto has announced that he will teach the fighting skills of The Two Heavens to the school’s best students.

This two-sword technique makes a samurai master almost invulnerable to attack. Those students interested must pass four mighty tests of samurai skill and courage before the New Year festival, then go into the mountains to survive the legendary challenges of the Circle of Three.

Jack realizes that he must learn The Two Heavens to defend himself against Dragon Eye, who still seeks his father’s ‘rutter,’ the precious coded mapbook which is Jack’s only remaining link to his father and his native England. The ninja tried to kill the daimyo, local ruler of the province and patron of their school, but the student samurai forced Dragon Eye’s retreat as the villain vowed further revenge.

Training beyond their normal martial arts classes, Jack and his friends Akiko, Saburo, and adoptive brother Yamato, all strive to prepare for the Circle of Three tests. But rumors of Christians killed in other provinces and the new Scorpion Gang formed by student samurai to force the gaijin out of Japan worry Jack and invade his dreams.

Can Jack learn the new skills he needs to qualify for the Circle of Three? Is there any safe place to hide his father’s rutter so that DragonEye will not find it? Will he ever get home to England, or will he live forever as the gaijin samurai in this tradition-bound land?

This great sequel to Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior  leaves readers eagerly waiting the next book in the series! Includes glossary of Japanese words.(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Way of the Warrior, by Chris Bradford (book review) – feudal Japan, shipwreck, assassins

book cover of Way of the Warrior by Chris BradfordLured into a trap…
all the gaijin must die…
but the youngest crewmember escapes – into a greater peril.

Jack knows that sea voyaging is dangerous, but his father is a skillful English pilot, with his handwritten navigational notes. But as they spot the shoreline of “the Japans” in 1611, their ship is attacked and sunk by ninja pirates, intent on keeping foreigners out of their country.

Only being found by an honorable samurai warrior saves Jack from immediate death.
Only Masamoto’s power within the empire allows the blond-haired teen to accompany him to train with other young men and women in the most-demanding of martial arts.

Only Jack’s determination to survive and someday return to England keeps him going through the mental challenges of fitting into Japanese society and the physical challenges of samurai school. Can blue-eyed Jack truly become an English samurai warrior in feudal Japan?

And DragonEye the one-eyed ninja assassin waits… waits for his chance to steal the navigation charts and to kill Jack. This is the first book in Bradford’s “Young Samurai” series – your chance to travel back into a closed society and heart-pounding adventure on a World Wednesday.
**kmm

Book info: The Way of the Warrior (Young Samurai #1) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2009 [author’s website] [book series website] [book trailer] Review copy and cover art courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Stormdriven to the rocky shores of 1612 Japan, Jack sees his father and shipmates killed by ninja pirates. Rescued from the wreckage by a samurai’s men, the young blond teen is the first Englishman ever to visit Japan, bringing with him only his father’s secret sea navigation charts.

Jack is adopted into the family of samurai Masamoto who has mourned for 2 years since his elder son was assassinated by “DragonEye,” the same green-eyed ninja who killed Jack’s father. At age 12, Jack must quickly learn how to handle a wooden practice sword and chopsticks, how to speak Japanese and follow the many rules of this polite society, how to “fall seven times and rise up eight.” Akiko, daughter of a fallen samurai, helps Jack learn these many lessons as they prepare to enter the samurai academy in Kyoto.

Will the younger Masamoto son accept this “gaijin” foreigner as a foster brother or keep fighting against him? Will Jack succeed at the samurai academy as he seeks to learn the Way of the Warrior? When DragonEye threatens the capital city, can Jack and the other young samurai stop him? And will Jack ever get home to England again?

This exciting first book in the Young Samurai series includes a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Japanese words essential to the story. Ikinasai! Let’s begin! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)