(BookR) Risuko By David Kudler

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Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.
I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.
My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory.
That I can be a very special kind of woman.
All I want to do is climb.
My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Cover: ★★★★

Book: ★★★★¾

**I was provided an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for my review**

My Review:

Samurai. Intrigue. Attempted Murder. A fast paced story about a girl just trying to make it in the world and with any luck redeem her family honor. I had to force myself to slow down; so as not to devour it all at once. That being said, Risuko is another book set at an unusual school determined to help her find her way out of her inauspicious circumstances, and it is her very ability to climb that ends up getting her into trouble and saving her life at the same time.

** This was the very first book review I ever wrote, and looking back now I see how short and to the point it really is, and I hope that my readers will forgive me for my slow start.**

 

Other Reviews:

 HISTORICAL/SUSPENSE THRILLER:  “Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale” is set in Japan in the sixteenth century with female warriors, one of whom is called Risuko. Along with two other apprentices, Emi and Toumi, Risuko arrives to their new home, which is filled with lots of secrets. Risuko is a nickname meaning squirrel – and she has an uncanny ability to climb just about anything!
Not a lot of authors write about Japan and Japanese culture, although it’s very interesting. David Kudler does an admirable job of describing sixteenth-century Japan, with tons of details to make the setting come alive. The characters are easy to relate to, especially Risuko. The women were portrayed as strong and independent, especially unique if one thinks this was set in the sixteenth century. The story was filled with action, suspense, and a unique, well-crafted storyline.
[…]
It is easy to invest in the characters, and once the reader starts this book, it’s almost impossible to put it down. Risuko goes through a lot of character growth throughout the book. An entertaining story with excellent writing and haunting descriptions, a relatable heroine, and fast-paced writing.  — Majanka Verstraete, InD’tale Magazine

In this YA historical novel set in Japan s Sengoku period, a girl who adores climbing attends an unusual school. Your mother sold you to me this morning. With this, young Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) for her love of climbing, learns she s to accompany imperious old Lady Chiyome s palanquin. Risuko s father was a samurai, a prestigious occupation in war-torn 16th-century Japan. After being disgraced, he had to find work as a scribe; he taught Risuko to read and write, but with him dead now, the family is near starving and Risuko s best option is to comply. The traveling party undergoes a cold and dangerous journey as it tries to dodge the fighting between rival warlords. Along the way, Risuko displays some of her abilities not just climbing, but calligraphy, bird calls, and presence of mind when attacked. When they finally reach the Mochizuki compound, Risuko becomes a novice, believing that she s being trained as a shrine attendant. There s talk of initiates becoming kunoichi, which no one will explain: you ll just have to find out on your own. At first, the novices perform only menial tasks, especially kitchen work, but they eventually receive lessons in music, singing, and dancing. But suspicion and intrigue (both political and romantic), plus attempted thievery and worse, tear apart the Mochizuki community, leading to a dramatic confrontation with the truth. Kudler (How Raven Brought Back the Light, 2014, etc.) draws on one of the most fascinating elements of Japan s feudal period the kunoichi, or female ninja. (Mochizuki Chiyome is a historical figure who trained young women as spies and assassins, using cover identities such as shrine attendants, servants, and prostitutes.) Also intriguing are the cultural details that Kudler weaves into his story, such as the Retreat, a small building where Mochizuki s women stay during their periods. The characters are nicely varied and all the pieces fit into place deftly, such as how Risuko s dance movements and kitchen skills can be used in fighting. A tight, exciting, and thoughtful first volume in what promises to be a fine series about a female ninja. –Kirkus Reviews

 

About the Author:

David Kudler is a writer and editor living just north of the Golden Gate Bridge with his wife, actress, teacher, and author Maura Vaughn, their author-to-be daughters, and their apparently non-literary cats.

A published author, he is currently working on Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, a young-adult historical adventure novel set in sixteenth century Japan.

He serves as publisher for Stillpoint Digital Press. Since 1999, he has overseen the publications program of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, for which he has edited three posthumous volumes of Campbell’s previously unpublished work (Pathways to Bliss, Myths of Light and Sake & Satori) and managed the publication of over fifty print, ebook, print, audio, and video titles, including the third edition of the seminal The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Currently, David serves as vice-president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.

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(BookR)The Kings Mistress by Emma Campion

mistress

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Amazon excerpt and Audible sample available

Pages: 352

Cover: ★★★

Book: ★★★½

Publishing Date: July 6th 2010

My Review:
One of the things that I love about historic fiction is you can make someone however you want whenever you write a book, which most historic fictions do. I personally love these books and this book in particular really captured my imagination. It’s always good to see a different point of view than that which has been fed to you. (Most of the time, as my AP history teacher always liked to point out, history is written by the victor; so you only end up getting half of the story.) Emma Campion tried her best to stay true to the time period, and give as much backstory as possible (It’s possible she gave a little too much). She starts the book with a 13 year old Alice getting ready to be married off to her 30-35 year old merchant husband. (It really makes me sick sometimes to think of myself at 13 marrying a 40 year old.) Then her husband disappears but leaves her with information about the current Queen which gives her the leverage to be taken into the Queens’ household as a wardrobe advisor. She eventually becomes (gasp) mistress to the king who bestows his favor upon her to the utter disbelief and chagrin of the other courtiers who feel she is too baseborn. She is someone who is vilified in her time period, shown to be nothing more than a gold digging prostitute who would stoop as low as prying the rings from the dead King’s fingers and Mrs. Campion gave her best shot at showing how her actions could have been made with the best of intentions and still have been judged in the worst possible way.

Description:

When had I choice to be other than I was? From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen, dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her – at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever and the family she holds dear.

But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets, secrets he didn’t want her to know – but which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more – as a virtual prisoner at Court.

And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt.

Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king’s favorites, she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace.

About the Author:

Emma Campion

The King’s Mistress was Emma Campion’s first novel. Her second, A Triple Knot, about Joan of Kent, will be published in the US by Crown 29 July 2014. She has read and researched medieval history for many years, having studied for a Ph.D in Medieval and Anglo-Saxon Literature. She writes historical crime novels under the name of Candace Robb. She lives in Seattle.

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(BookR) The Daughters of Palatine Hill by Phyllis T. Smith

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Pre-order now for 46-27% OFF

Pages: 412

Cover: ★★★

Book: ★★★★¾

Publishing Date: 02/16/16

 

Before I begin my review I have to admit to a fascination with this period in history from the time I was a small child. This started with this book:

cleopatra

 

My Review:

I found myself absolutely in the thrall of this book from the moment I opened it up. The character descriptions were unbelievably vivid. The description is a tiny bit misleading where it talks about Cleopatra Selene being a companion to Julia (Augustus Caesar’s Daughter), while they do live in the same household they didn’t really seem to be what I would call companions either. This is one of those books that jumps from one characters point of view to another characters point of view. This is usually a book killer for me, because I will pick a character I like and only read their parts. I didn’t have that problem with this book since I formed an emotional attachment to all of the characters. My emotional attachment evolved as the characters moved from childhood to adulthood and as they interacted with each other, which I think is a hallmark of a truly talented writer. Overall, I loved this book and I think I will be adding I am Livia to my list of books to read in the future.

 

Description:

Two years after Emperor Augustus’s bloody defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, he triumphantly returns to Rome. To his only child, Julia, he brings an unlikely companion—Selene, the daughter of the conquered Egyptian queen and her lover.

Under the watchful eye of Augustus’s wife, Livia, Selene struggles to accept her new home among her parents’ enemies. Bound together by kinship and spilled blood, these three women—Livia, Selene, and Julia—navigate the dangerous world of Rome’s ruling elite, their every move a political strategy, their most intimate decisions in the emperor’s hands.

Always suppressing their own desires for the good of Rome, each must fulfill her role. For astute Livia, this means unwavering fidelity to her all-powerful husband; for sensual Julia, surrender to an arranged marriage and denial of her craving for love and the pleasures of the flesh; for orphaned Selene, choosing between loyalty to her family’s killers and her wish for revenge.

Can they survive Rome’s deadly intrigues, or will they be swept away by the perilous currents of the world’s most powerful empire?

About the Author

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet she found herself drawn to writing fiction and to the history, literature, and art of the ancient world. Her first novel, I Am Livia, was a #1 Kindle and Digital Book World bestseller. She plans to write more novels set in ancient Rome.
**I was provided with an Advance Readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes**