Category: Martial Arts

Book Review | “The Jade Lioness” (Book Three of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 6 May, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Jade Lioness” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am fascinated by this series:

You know almost immediately when you pick up a Courtenay Historical Rom, you’re going to be enchanted by what you find inside the page! She has a way of pulling you into the narrative quite quickly and endearing you to her characters; many of whom have emotional angst or something they need to prove to themselves. She also is one of my favourite historical authors for tying together loose ends, maintaining continuity or by giving us more information about secondary characters.

There were incredible layers of emotional angst percolating throughout the story but it’s how Courtenay made the keen choices to embrace those situations and to use them towards the gain for the reader to walk alongside her characters as they worked through everything together. It’s the strength of finding the courage to be oneself and to embrace differences even in one’s family to find the bridge to unite through forgiveness and patience. Truly this became an uplifting story to read due to how convincing the redemption was for Midori and the rest of her family.

And, of course, I especially was taken by the descriptive details which set this narrative to be illuminated by sweeping arcs of action sequences and the beauty of life on the high seas. I liked the nuances of Japanese culture and the way in which Courtenay infused Midori’s spiritual life into the backdrop of her character’s personality. Everything felt authentically realistic whilst anchouring the story between Japan and England. You could fully find yourself caught in the midst of the 17th Century where nothing was certain nor guaranteed to be right anytime soon. At the height of everything, blessedly there was still slivers of hope of how Midori would find not only true happiness but a passionate partner of whom accepted her unconditionally. A true honour of her upbringing and of finding her own way to unite her past with her present. Now it’s Temperance’s turn to take the spotlight in the series and I can’t wait to go back to Japan where the series began as she makes her mark on how her life is meant to play out.

-quoted from my review of The Gilded Fan

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Courtenay:

Three years ago, on the 26th of April, 2014, I created #ChocLitSaturday a weekly Rom chat to celebrate the novelists of ChocLitUK but also, to expand to include book bloggers, readers and writers of Romance who have a penchant for the genre as a whole. Ms Courtenay started to become a regular fixture, and her encouraging conversations & ability to inspire others to converse freely throughout the chats put me at ease in my new role as a ‘Hostess’. She always seemed to know how to either start a topic or how to best suggest something to break the ice! I was always so very grateful to her and I am thinking I might have forgotten to tell her directly how much gratitude I had for her in those earlier chats! Over the years, I have found myself attached to each of my ‘regular’ chatters during the hour, and I consider Ms Courtenay a bookish like-minded soul and dear friend, as we tend to appreciate the same types of stories!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Courtenay through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat, kept in touch privately and having had previously read her time slip novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Jade Lioness” (Book Three of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Jade Lioness
by Christina Courtenay
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

Can an impossible love become possible?



Nagasaki, 1648

Temperance Marston longs to escape war-torn England and explore the exotic empire of Japan. When offered the chance to accompany her cousin and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki, she jumps at the opportunity. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom.

On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family’s honour.

But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 978-1781892374

Also by this author: Guest Post about Time Slips, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Scarlet Kimono, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, Marry for Love, The Gilded Fan, The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Also in this series: The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by ChocLitUK

on 19th March, 2016

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 320

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats:

Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

The Kumashiro series:

Book One: The Scarlet Kimono (see also Review)

Book Two: The Gilded Fan (see also Review)

Book Three: The Jade Lioness

Converse via: #KumashiroSeries + #HistRom or #ChocLit

About Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay

Christina lives near Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. Christina is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Novels: Trade Winds, Highland Storms, Monsoon Mists, The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, The Soft Whisper of Dreams, The Jade Lioness, Marry in Haste, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Desperate Remedies and Never Too Late.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Divider

Posted Saturday, 6 May, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 17th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Domestic Violence, East India Company, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Martial Arts, Modern British Literature, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multi-Generational Saga, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, World Religions

Book Review | “The Gilded Fan” (Book Two of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 29 April, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Gilded Fan” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I am fascinated by this series:

I was so consumed by the beautiful romance emitting out of this historical novel, I was swept into the folds of this story to such a degree, I did not want it to end! Hannah and Kumashiro are incredible characters to meet and it’s how their lives start to intersect that keep you up late into the night, as it’s not a book you wish to put down but one to devour, one chapter at a time whilst savouring the journey Courtenay has taken you on!

I appreciated the pacing of this novel – we were given such a lovely narrative in scope, to allow ourselves to curl inside the ‘moments’ with the characters rather than moving at such a clip of a pace to miss certain things. A nice touch too was having certain Japanese words used to explain tradition and the details you’d hope to learn by reading about another country’s cultural heritage. Courtenay has you breathe in the timescape and you feel as if you’ve experienced this place in time as you read the story. I happen to fancy this exploration through fiction because you can live so much through words and how the writer paints the portrait of a scene – it gives a realism to novels and it’s a lovely discovery to have as a reader who appreciates the historical past.

I loved how Ms Courtenay did not write a predictable story on the level that you were never quite certain what was going to befell Hannah – she is a feisty heroine, but she’s one who has a lot riding on her choices and on the will to live differently from the views of her family. Courtenay granted her the ability to think on her feet and to strive to hope she could have a better life if she could get through the adversities that were cutting her to the quick. I loved watching Hannah grow whilst she was at sea and how this growth gave her an empowerment once she reached Japan to where she far more stronger in spirit than when she first left England.

Courtenay has written such a gentle love story as to encircle your mind with her narrative, soaking inside the story as it unfolds and not wanting it to end. She gives you so much time to reside inside this story, you feel connected to Japan but moreso than that even, you feel very connected to her characters.

Such a lovely unputdownable discovery!

I cannot wait to read the next installment – as this surely is a historical drama I dearly love reading and are wicked happy shall be continuing!

-quoted from my review of The Scarlet Kimono

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Courtenay:

Three years ago, on the 26th of April, 2014, I created #ChocLitSaturday a weekly Rom chat to celebrate the novelists of ChocLitUK but also, to expand to include book bloggers, readers and writers of Romance who have a penchant for the genre as a whole. Ms Courtenay started to become a regular fixture, and her encouraging conversations & ability to inspire others to converse freely throughout the chats put me at ease in my new role as a ‘Hostess’. She always seemed to know how to either start a topic or how to best suggest something to break the ice! I was always so very grateful to her and I am thinking I might have forgotten to tell her directly how much gratitude I had for her in those earlier chats! Over the years, I have found myself attached to each of my ‘regular’ chatters during the hour, and I consider Ms Courtenay a bookish like-minded soul and dear friend, as we tend to appreciate the same types of stories!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Courtenay through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat, kept in touch privately and having had previously read her time slip novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Gilded Fan” (Book Two of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Gilded Fan
by Christina Courtenay
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 9781781890080

Also by this author: Guest Post about Time Slips, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Scarlet Kimono, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, Marry for Love, The Jade Lioness, The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Also in this series: The Scarlet Kimono, The Jade Lioness


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by ChocLitUK

on 7th February, 2013

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 350

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats:

Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

The Kumashiro series:

Book One: The Scarlet Kimono (see also Review)

Book Two: The Gilded Fan

Book Three: The Jade Lioness | Synopsis

Converse via: #KumashiroSeries + #HistRom or #ChocLit

About Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay

Christina lives near Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. Christina is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Novels: Trade Winds, Highland Storms, Monsoon Mists, The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, The Soft Whisper of Dreams, The Jade Lioness, Marry in Haste, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Desperate Remedies and Never Too Late.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Divider

Posted Saturday, 29 April, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 17th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Domestic Violence, East India Company, England, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Japanese History, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Martial Arts, Military Fiction, Modern British Literature, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Multi-Generational Saga, Naturopathic Medicine, Puritan England, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights, World Religions

+Blog Book Tour+ Blade of the Samurai (Book 2 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan Spann

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , 4 Comments

Parajunkee Designs

Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks), (a Thomas Donne book) 15 July, 2014
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers
Official Author Websites: Site | @SusanSpann | Blog
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook Page Count: 304

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery#ShinobiMysteries OR #BladeOfTheSamurai


Katana

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Blade of the Samurai” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I opted to receive the first novel of the Shinobi mystery series to formulate a better impression about where the series began and where the series is continuing in this sequel. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Blade of the Samurai” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. However, I received a complimentary hardback copy of “Claws of the Cat” without obligation to post a review or comment on its behalf. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either novel. I elected to post this review for my own edification as much as my enjoyment for the introduction to a new series I will be in full support of watching grow through successive installments!

Inspired to Read: 

I personally always have a preference of reading serial fiction in ‘order’ of the established series, and I can go to great lengths to sort out the order of series too! This is especially true for the Elm Creek series (by Jennifer Chiaverini) and the Aunt Dimity series (by Nancy Atherton)! When I first started to research this novel going on tour this Summer (referencing Blade), I discovered that it is the type of series where you could ‘side step’ from the opening bits of the series, but I had feeling you’d miss quite a heap in doing so! Therefore, I was instantly inspired to read Claws ahead of Blade, and thus took up the offer to receive Claws with Blade for the tour! I simply love having a good footing into the momentum of how the key characters interact, what motivates them, and how the series expands by relieving more of their internal natures as much as a clue into their outward lives outside of their investigations (especially for cosies!).

On my connection to Ms. Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture.

In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours (the touring company I am hosting for this Interview & my forthcoming book review) I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the blog tour! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

A lovely surprise arrived within the pages of the book: 

Ms. Spann offered to send me a bookmark with the novels, as her husband had kindly designed two special editions to celebrate the series thus far along! Imagine my pure delight in finding I had received a “Blade of the Samurai” bookmark with my parcel of Shinobi mysteries! She tweeted me this picture as a ‘teaser’ and I must say, it hardly does the bookmark justice, as they are ‘slimline’ markers with the featured ‘cover art’ images per each book cover in the series. This one is a close-up on the hilt of the sword and the rolled blue & white paper; overlaid with the title and subtitle of ‘A Shinobi Mystery’. Eek. For a girl who is wholly giddy about a new cosy historical mystery series having read the first and fallen in love with it head over foot – this small gift will forevermore make me happy to use as I read each newly published installment!

Cleverly on the opposite side is a full listing of the series in print & the one title scheduled to be in print: “Flask of the Drunken Master” for July 2015! Incredibly next Summer will give me a new adventure for two of my favourite cosy investigators, whose charming method of fighting crime is nearly being indifferent to the request to solve them! Indifferent in the way that only a priest and ninja can elect to reveal as their own preferences of how to occupy their days are quite different from each other. I love how they simply ‘fall into’ a scene of a crime or are handed an offer to investigate nearly as if by accidental acquaintance. It is such a curious method of how a mystery can alight in your life and path, that I love seeing who they are connected too which will lead to a new case!

+Blog Book Tour+ Blade of the Samurai (Book 2 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan SpannBlade of the Samurai
by Susan Spann
Source: Author via TLC Book Tours

June 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor. . .

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in sixteenth-century Japan.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Also by this author: Author Q&A : Susan Spann (on behalf of her Shinobi mysteries), Claws of the Cat, Flask of the Drunken Master, Interview with Susan Spann (FLASK), The Ninja's Daughter, Author Interview (Hiro Hattori Novels), Betrayal at Iga

Series: Shinobi Mystery, Hiro Hattori


Also in this series: Claws of the Cat, Flask of the Drunken Master, The Ninja's Daughter, Betrayal at Iga, Trial on Mount Koya, (Interview) Trial on Mount Koya


Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japanese Fiction, Martial Art History, Suspense, World Religions


Published by A Thomas Donne Book

on 15 July, 2014

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 304

Author Biography:

Susan Spann Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her début novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Precursor to Blade: Claws of the Cat: {Book One}

Claws of the Cat by Susan SpannI could not stop reading Claws of the Cat once I found myself inside this beautiful world of Feudal Japan! I simply devoured the story, daring my eyes to read further and faster, yet wanting to take a pause to allow the scenery and the words to sink in to my conscience. This is a story of honour as much as it is a story of supposition without the ability to see past a suspicion. The fact that there is a cheeky and beloved cat, er, kitten in the household of where Father Mateo and Hiro keep their residence gave me an added joy! The very, very last scene of the novel left me in a happy smile as even though I do not understand Portuguese I recognised a ‘cognate’ of Spanish! The humour of that reply was not lost on my eyes! I love the pace of the novel, because Claws is set to have an expanse of time envelope the community, giving you the chance to know the layout and the rituals of their beliefs. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind. If you appreciate crime fiction that allows you to work through the muddling puzzle as it starts to unravell and thread through the needling of proof – you will findClaws of the Cat most enjoyable to read!
– quoted from my book review of Claws of the Cat

  Katana  

Resuming where Claws left off:

As soon as I opened the pages of Blade of the Samurai, I felt as though time had stopped moving forward as I greeted Hiro and his kitten Gato as though only a few hours had transpired between visiting with them! I am still mirthfully enjoying a cheeky chuckle over the origins of his kitten’s name! Even his dear friend Kazu returns in the opening pages, which is quite wonderful considering that I had enjoyed observing their close friendship in Claws. I was hoping he might come back in successive novels in this series of the Shinobi mysteries, and thankfully, I did not have very long to wait!

I believe Hiro has grown a bit through his close companionship with the Priest, as although he is classically trained and carries on his shinobi heritage well, there are parts of his being that are being reasoned a bit outside of his traditional view and beliefs. If not, I daresay he would not work well alongside Father Mateo, as the Priest holds law, truth, and justice to such high accords. In this way, I appreciate the way Hiro is being conveyed and how his differences under Father Mateo’s influence of friendship continue to show how unique of man he is when projected against his peers. Even in consideration of other shinobi, Hiro tends to walk a line between two cultures and two distinct ways of living through practice of conviction. Read More

Divider

Posted Monday, 1 September, 2014 by jorielov in #LitChat, 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Geographically Specific, Green-Minded Publishers, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Martial Art History, Martial Arts, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Suspense, TLC Book Tours, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions

+Book Review+ Claws of the Cat (Book 1 of the Shinobi Mystery series) by Susan Spann

Posted Thursday, 21 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Parajunkee Designs

Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks),
(a Thomas Donne book) 16th July, 2013

imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Official Author Websites: Site | @SusanSpann | Blog
Available Formats: Hardcover & Ebook Page Count: 288

Genre(s): Cosy Mystery | Suspense | Japanese Fiction | Martial Art History

Converse via: #ShinobiMystery OR #ShinobiMysteries

Miso Soup

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Blade of the Samurai” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I opted to receive the first novel of the Shinobi mystery series to formulate a better impression about where the series began and where the series is continuing in this sequel. I received a complimentary hardback copy of the “Blade of the Samurai” direct from the author Susan Spann, in exchange for an honest review. However, I received a complimentary hardback copy of “Claws of the Cat” without obligation to post a review or comment on its behalf. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein on either novel. I elected to post this review for my own edification as much as my enjoyment for the introduction to a new series I will be in full support of watching grow through successive installments!

Inspired to Read:

I personally always have a preference of reading serial fiction in ‘order’ of the established series, and I can go to great lengths to sort out the order of series too! This is especially true for the Elm Creek series (by Jennifer Chiaverini) and the Aunt Dimity series (by Nancy Atherton)! When I first started to research this novel going on tour this Summer (referencing Blade), I discovered that it is the type of series where you could ‘side step’ from the opening bits of the series, but I had feeling you’d miss quite a heap in doing so! Therefore, I was instantly inspired to read Claws ahead of Blade, and thus took up the offer to receive Claws with Blade for the tour! I simply love having a good footing into the momentum of how the key characters interact, what motivates them, and how the series expands by relieving more of their internal natures as much as a clue into their outward lives outside of their investigations (especially for cosies!).

On my connection to Ms. Spann:

I started visiting the chats hosted by @LitChat in the latter months of 2013, as it was around the time of the conference at The Betsy in which I started to cross paths with regular chatters, amongst whom were Natalia Sylvester (début novelist of “Chasing the Sun”) and Susan Spann. I am unsure which month I first started to notice Ms. Spann as a friendly presence who always reminded me of myself — someone who provided cheerful commentary, engaging questions for each visiting guest author, and a wicked knowledge base on a variety of topics. Generally speaking, I always click-over to read a person’s Twitter profile, but whilst engaged in those #LitChat(s) I felt like it was this magical rendezvous for the bookish and those who are attuned to bookish culture. In this way, it wasn’t until I learnt of Blade of the Samurai was going on tour through TLC Book Tours (the touring company I am hosting for this Interview & my forthcoming book review) I had decided to discover a bit more about her! In so doing, I learnt who she was ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak! I always considered her one of my ‘friends in the twitterverse’ but I never disclosed this to her until I was on the blog tour! Such serendipity as the tour has brought us a bit closer and I am grateful that Twitter is a social-positive method of reaching past our distances in geography to connect to people who share a passion for the written word.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Spann through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst attending #LitChat; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

Miso Soup

Book Synopsis:

May 1564: When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Susan SpannMateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Author Biography:

Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her début novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Miso Soup

The cultural aspects of the story | hidden sub-layers to the narrative:

Spann has a way of integrating cultural references into the undercurrent of her narrative, giving the experience of soaking into her suspenseful mystery series a pure delight to any reader who likes to learn about cultures outside of their own. In this début novel, where the heart of the series lies in Hiro and Father Mateo’s presence in a place where outside influences on religious grounds is not taken lightly; these two men not only forged a friendship with each other but they form a friendship with the reader. Although there are only a few Japanese words inserted into the context of the novel itself, there are symbols to designate a new paragraph or a spilt between two different sequences. Spann also acknowledged when the use of either Portuguese or Japanese dialect were better of being used per each person they spoke to on their journey.

The subtle mention of the type of clothing different men would way to signify to each other their rank and of their position in their field of service gave a touch of authenticity. I had to simply smile when I read about miso soup served with tofu cubes inside, as my personal preference for miso soup is actually miso, daikon radish, and scallions. She has an intricate knowledge to share about weaponry giving a light on the tools of the trade for the Shinobi. I especially enjoyed the history and usage of the ‘claws’ for which the title implies a strong connection to the central plot of discovery!

Each of the little hidden sub-layers stitched into the narrative through the cultural traditions of the Japanese, gave me a proper sense of ‘time’, ‘setting’, and ‘place’ as I felt as though I was walking alongside Hiro or Father Mateo. This is important, as the 16th Century is quite a throw backwards in time, without the benefit of having living relatives and/or known history to fall back on as a method of connection. Spann even included little bobbles of cognitive thinking, showing how Hiro would want to avoid a mis-step in his deduction if he applied the logic of a piece of ancient wisdom. These are the kind of little moments I always cherish to find in a historical piece of fiction.

My Review of Claws of the Cat:

The best opening sequence to illustrate a close friendship between two diverse cultural backgrounds is placing two characters in a cheeky exchange of a game of cat and mouse; which is how we are introduced to Hiro and Father Mateo! Hiro is a proud ‘shinobi‘ whereas Mateo is a proud Priest; they each adhere not only to their convictions of their religious and cultural backgrounds, but they are two men of devout honour intermixed with a sense of duty that defies the logic of their age. Father Mateo is a humble man of God, who has chosen to serve in Japan (originally from Portugal), with his limited understanding of the language but his great concern on the spiritual lives of those who accept his guidance through his beliefs in Christianity. Hiro on the other hand, is shaped by his roots as a shinobi assassin, whose code of conduct and of respect goes past spirituality and more into the honour generally befit a warrior. Each of them tries the patience of the other, but it is who they are at the root of their core which endears their friendship the most. Hiro instantly comes across as a man betwixt his own traditions and in full acceptance of Mateo’s; untoward feeling if a day approached where he would have to sacrifice his life for Mateo’s, he would not hesitate.

The crime itself is a brutal killing of a man, who was murdered inside of a teahouse where one of the students of Father Mateo lives and works. This brought Father Mateo into a culture that has its own way of looking at things (as there is a code of honour & ethic allowing a vengeance killing to avenge a deceased loved one), forcing his hand to intercede on a young girl and placing himself in extreme danger as he did so. Watching Hiro’s reaction to the actions of his friend gave the impression that their friendship is both complicated and respectful of differing opinions.

A cover-up of a murder can always be more suspicious the further the truth extends from the visual (or physical) evidence. As Hiro had explained his own thoughts on the murder scene, I had started to gather my own. I loved learning more about the teahouses during the 16th Century, as they were very reminiscent of their counterparts in Victorian London; worlds which exist on their own clock, in their own way, and are closed to the outside world nearly completely except for certain compliances to when the world is left on their doorstep.

The working theory of this unusual duo of investigators, is that someone wanted to elicit a war to take over the coveted shogunate position which in of itself gave control over the military; yet the person in this position had to yield to the emperor who was still in a higher level of power. The cause and effect of the murder started to take on a political motive when new facts were starting to arise as Hiro and Father Mateo dug further into the witnesses who gave accounts of what they knew. I enjoyed watching Hiro observe each person they questioned, seeking clues given away through the lost art of reading body language in combination with spoken responses to enquiries. His keen observation skills warranted his partnership with Father Mateo who was more oft to speak out of haste rather than out of pensivity.

Oh! Mid-way through I sorted out of whom Hiro kept reminding me of,… do you ever strive to remember something on the very tip of your memory? This is what I was attempting to do each time Hiro would be reflected as raising his brow and/or showing a similar small response to something Mateo was saying to him. A lightbulb finally glowed quite bright: Spock! He reminds me of the logical thinking of Spock (from Star Trek: the Original Series!) and how his exchanges of theory verse thought did not always align or sympathise with Mateo! Hiro was oft-times in awe of Mateo, for not only proving he was not as unaware as others would tend to believe, but for his courage in seeking out a hidden clue Hiro himself might have missed the thread to follow!

I could not stop reading Claws of the Cat once I found myself inside this beautiful world of Feudal Japan! I simply devoured the story, daring my eyes to read further and faster, yet wanting to take a pause to allow the scenery and the words to sink in to my conscience. This is a story of honour as much as it is a story of supposition without the ability to see past a suspicion. The fact that there is a cheeky and beloved cat, er, kitten in the household of where Father Mateo and Hiro keep their residence gave me an added joy! The very, very last scene of the novel left me in a happy smile as even though I do not understand Portuguese I recognised a ‘cognate’ of Spanish! The humour of that reply was not lost on my eyes! I love the pace of the novel, because Claws is set to have an expanse of time envelope the community, giving you the chance to know the layout and the rituals of their beliefs. There is a clever balance between Japanese spirituality, Zen Buddhism, Christianity, and a few others in-between all three. I love writers who find a way to etch a spiritual presence as part of the make-up of a character’s mind. If you appreciate crime fiction that allows you to work through the muddling puzzle as it starts to unravell and thread through the needling of proof – you will find Claws of the Cat most enjoyable to read!

I shall be spending Friday consuming “Blade of the Samurai”!

Susan Spann has a writing style which keys you into the moment of the hour:

Spann has a saying on her website “Spann of Time”, and to me, ever since I first read that on her site, I felt as though she was giving a clue as to the type of woman and writer she truly is! Her rapt fascination with Japan and the historical lore around the shinobi is clearly evident in how she writes on their behalf as though you could knock on their door, request an audience over tea, and jot down notes of their lives. The absence of strong language is a personal celebration for me, because I was ever so blessed to have found not one word out of place nor offensive in this entire story! I was nearly beginning to think I was the ancient one in today’s market for cosy mysteries as too oft I am finding myself that ‘strong language’ is more the norm than the quirk! How blessed then, to soak inside this story in full absorption of its merits and simply wander off into the labyrinth neighbourhoods of Kyoto, Japan!

If I had had the time, I would have made myself a fat pot of fresh brewed tea, left a cuppa on my heart mug rug and drunk in the aromatherapy of the herbal tea as my eyes drank in the words!

Note: On the murder itself (by description and of the condition the body is found): Generally speaking, I have the tendency to read more Cosies than Hard-Boiled mysteries, but on certain rare occasions I find myself keenly fascinated and intrigued by a suspenseful crime narrative that becomes what I personally refer to as: a hard-boiled this side of a cosy! Specifically due to the fact the murder might be bludgeonedly brutal and the deceased if left ravaged by a passionate killer. There are a few authors I like who fall under this measure of a mark for mysteries and they are as follows: Cleo Coyle (for the Coffeehouse mysteries); Heather Graham (for the Ghost Harrison series); Anna Lee Huber (for the Lady Darby series); and now Susan Spann (for the Shinobi mysteries)!

As I will discuss further when I post my review (at long last, yes I know dear hearts!) for “The Anatomist’s Wife”, I discovered this particular penchant for either a medical examiner inquest of a search for a killer OR simply a stronger knitted story-line where the crime takes a back-seat to the expanding investigation into who could have committed the crime to such a degree as how it was discovered. I celebrate each author who pens a story that leaves me wholly outside my own realm for a spell, and dips into the curious nature of criminology, forensic psychology, and the pathological motivations you’d find in a cosy or hard-boiled mystery!

The writers I always list have a preference for on certain instances of inclusion, are the ones who transcend outside the genre I love to read, and weave together story that is not focused on the details of how someone died (although they are given their due on camera so to speak), but rather everything that happens after the crime itself. Pulling you further into the psychosis of how each investigator navigates an investigation and how each person treats the case he or she is working to resolve. Only the crime involved in these kinds of story fit the ‘hard-boiled’ style, whereas the scope of the stories are most definitely ‘cosy’.

Miso Soup
Read an Excerpt of the Novel:
Claws of the Cat: A Shinobi Mystery by MacMillian Publishers

Miso Soup

This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

TLC Book Tours | Tour Hostclick-through to follow the blogosphere tour.

Next I shall be reviewing “Blade of the Samurai”!

Earlier I posted an Author Q&A with Susan Spann
in conjunction with this showcase!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

See what I am hosting next:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

What do you love the most about cosy historical mysteries!? And, did you know that I have found this particular niche of fiction to be one of my favourites of the past year? If you visit my Story Vault and go down the page, you will find the other reviews of stories which alighted in my hands through a blog tour, and have given me such a blessing to discover!

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Claws of the Cat” and the book synopsis were provided by the author Susan Spann and used with permission. The author photograph and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by Scribd. Miso soup clipart inserted through the ClipArt Plug-In via WP for the Open Clip Art Library (OCAL) – all clip art images are in the public domain and are free to use without restrictions.}}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Ninja – (en.wikipedia.org)

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “Claws of the Cat”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

 

Divider

Posted Thursday, 21 August, 2014 by jorielov in #LitChat, 16th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cultural & Religious Traditions, Equality In Literature, Geographically Specific, Green-Minded Publishers, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Martial Arts, Passionate Researcher, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Suspense, TLC Book Tours, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions