#BookBlitz “The Oni’s Shamisen (The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy Series, Book 9)” by Claire Youmans

 

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy Series, Book 9

 

Historical Fantasy, Japan, Paranormal

Date Published: April 2022

Publisher: American I Publishing


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Japan, 1877. Toki-Girl Azuki revels in her new-found freedom. But now what
will she do with it?

Using her patterns and the looms Western Dragon Prince Iyrtsh makes for
Eastern Dragon Princess Otohime’s ambitious project—resettling
refugees displaced by the failed Satsuma Rebellion—anyone can make her
fabulous fabric designs! But what of Azuki herself? Then the Oni, Kukanko,
who is sure she’s not a demon, calls on the Toki-Girl for help.

Can Azuki, Sparrow-Boy Shota, Dragon Princess Renko and Eagle-Boy Akira
find a way to help the Oni? What will a blind musician accomplish using
their results? How can they help Uncle Yuta and Aunt Noriko find places for
newly freed mill workers with no place left to go? Or help Lady Anko and
Lord Toshio defy convention and save their unlucky twins from potentially
lethal superstition? What’s going to happen to a very special horse?

Eastern Dragon King Ryuujin and Western Dragon Queen Rizantona contemplate
the future of their species and the planet, and infant Dragon Prince
Susu’s inability to keep a secret has catastrophic results.

Will Azuki and her friends find a way to help others while saving
themselves, their friends, and their future? Can Azuki find a new
path?

The Oni’s Shamisen is the ninth in the groundbreaking Toki-girl and
Sparrow-boy series where History and fantasy and magical realism collide in
this latest tale from the Meiji Era, a time and place where anything could
happen and probably did!

 

Get the latest novel in this exhilarating series today!

Other Books in the The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series:

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 1: Coming Home

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 2: Chasing Dreams

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 3: Together

The Toki Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 4: Uncle Yuta has an
Adventure

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 5: Noriko’s Journey

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 6: The Dragon Sisters

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 7: The Eagle and the Sparrow

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 8: The Shadows of War

Amazon

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Azuki, the girl who became a toki, laughed as she soared in the thermal. In
her form as a Japanese Crested Ibis, she rode the wind. Her powerful white
wings, touched with stunning peach accents, worked to carry her far above
the mountainous northern Kyushu landscape.

Laughing with her, Akira, the boy who became an eagle, matched her stroke
for stroke as they circled each other, dancing in the air. They were close
in size, for Steller’s Sea Eagles are proud of being the largest among
eagles—no matter what those Harpy Eagles might think—and the
Japanese Crested Ibis isn’t much smaller.

Dancing in the air wasn’t limited to birds, Akira thought as the wind
softened beneath his wings—only to those who could fly. The Western
Dragon Prince Irtysh and the Eastern Dragon Princess Otohime, though
divergent in form, had learned to dance together, and Otohime had first
learned to do it with her younger and smaller half-sister, their friend,
Renko.

But nobody did it like eagles!

“Let’s dive,” Akira cried to Azuki. She didn’t
answer, but slowed to nearly stall before tipping her long black beak
downward and tucking in her wings. Akira drove the air with his own muscular
wings to catch her, and they spiraled downwards, twisting closely around
each other, racing towards the land.

They learned this from the dragons, who rejoiced in flight as much as the
birds, and were smart enough and playful enough to take any airborne idea
and expand on it. They all learned from each other.

As they approached the treetops, Azuki called, “Crossover!” and
they changed their courses to hurtle past each other before starting the
upward curve of their next ascent. Careful to keep exact pace with each
other, they curved their angles inward so they would meet at the top of
their arc. Akira thought they might cross over again and descend in lazy
twining circles before landing.

Suddenly, right between them, a dragon appeared.

Akira and Azuki both dodged to avoid this obstacle, who was small for a
dragon, though large compared to them. He was bronze, brown and gold, and in
the classic European fashion, his hide was studded with jewels. When he was
a human, he looked Japanese.

“Nice flight, you two,” the dragon said.

“Susu-chan!” Azuki called. “What are you doing here?
Don’t pop in like that! It’s dangerous!”

“I wasn’t in your way!” Susu objected. Youngest of the
dual-natured dragons, Susu was Renko’s full brother. Otohime was his
much older half-sister, child of the Eastern Dragon King Ryuujin. Irtysh was
his much older half-brother, child of the Western Dragon Queen Rizantona.
Susu was a child prodigy who was afraid of nothing except his fierce and
royal parents, and sometimes his grown-up siblings, who could be quite
fierce themselves. Renko was young like him and would usually not only let
him get away with tricks but teach him new ones. She’d been a child
prodigy herself.

“That’s only because we’re good,” Akira said with a
mental laugh as the two big birds circled around the hovering dragon. They
all spoke in mental speech, convenient for times when their physical beings
or their circumstances didn’t accommodate physical, audible
speech.

“You did spoil our descent, though,” Azuki added.
“Isn’t it good manners for dragons to announce themselves to
avoid interrupting others?” Susu looked abashed.

“I should have,” Susu said. “I’m sorry. I forgot. I
guess I did come in right in the middle. Is it convenient?” That was a
popular dragon greeting. Dragons frequently spontaneously appeared in each
other’s presences without announcing themselves in advance, which few
of them could manage all the time.

Mental speech did not always work for any- and every-one or at different
distances. Dragons vanished promptly if they were told to come back later.
They enjoyed spontaneity and were sometimes impulsive. Susu, formally His
Royal Highness Prince Suoh-Sugaar, certainly was.

“No, but as long as you’re here,” Akira said with a grin
that forgave the dragon child too much and too often, “what can we do
for you?”

“Not for me, but for Brother.” In the Japanese fashion, Susu
usually referred to his relatives by relationship rather than name. He did
have other brothers–both his parents had other children–but when
he said “Brother,” as though it were a name, he invariably meant
the one he was closest to: Prince Irtysh.

“How can we serve His Royal Highness today?” Azuki asked
formally. She’d had just about enough of this childish nonsense. Susu
was old enough to use proper manners!

“Did you know Brother has children?” Susu swiveled to try to
follow the birds’ line of sight. Birds couldn’t hover like
dragons could. “Come land on me!”

Azuki and Akira glanced at each other, then swooped in to circle before
landing on Susu’s broad back.

“I didn’t,” Akira said as he banked,
“No.”

“I never thought about it,” Azuki admitted. “They
don’t live with him.”

“They’re kind of old,” Susu told them. “Grown-ups.
They all have their own caverns and their own mountains. All over the place.
Galina’s mountain is north of here, really close to Hokkaido!
She’s a princess, too. She’s older than me, but we like to swim
together. I think I’m her uncle.” Susu frowned at this. That
didn’t make sense to him emotionally, though if he worked it out,
intellectually, it did. His brother’s children….

“So Prince Irtysh has children?” Akira decided to move the
original conversation back on track. He positioned himself to land near
where Azuki would light down. While the prince was, by rank, His Royal
Highness, he preferred a lower level of formality from those among the
dual-natured and humans he seemed to consider part of his social circle, if
not his friends. Akira didn’t know if he would ever be able to truly
claim friendship with the suave and sophisticated dragon prince, though he
admired him enormously.

“Five!” Susu said. “He’s talking to them about
those machines he’s building for your refugees! He wants to know how
many you’ll need, so I need to get Tsuruko-san. Then she and
Kichiro-san can come back with us and we can all talk about going to the
Exhibition! It starts in just a few days!”

Susu was a jump ahead of everybody, as he often was, Azuki thought, though
he was frequently misdirected. Tsuruko-san, the Crane-Woman, was working
closely with Her Royal Highness, the Eastern Dragon Princess Otohime. Both
of them joined the fully human Lady Satsuki, her very pregnant daughter,
Anko-sama, and all the rest of them, in helping to resettle refugees
displaced by the Satsuma Rebellion. Azuki didn’t want to think about that.
The Rebellion was coming to its end, and its end would be, inevitably,
tragic.

“That’s where we’ll find out about the cotton spinning
machine.” Akira nodded. “I want to go, too.”

About the Author

Claire Youmans was captivated the first time she set foot in the Land of
the Rising Sun. After many years of travel to this magical place, the
retired lawyer now lives in Tokyo, exploring and writing fiction and poetry.
During the Meiji Era, Japan leapt from a decaying feudalism to a modern
first world power. How’d they do that? This history holds a key to
understanding Japanese culture and character. Like the ocean, Japan changes
only on the surface while the depths remain the same. Using folklore and
fantasy, Youmans tells this story in an accessible, fun, and exciting way
that reveals and explores the true nature of Japan, a culture that is
unique, quirkly and one she has ultimately come to love.

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#BookTour “Heart of Hope and Fear (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #3)” by C.S. Johnson

HeartofHopeandFear copy

Welcome to the tour for the gorgeous final installment in The Order of the Crystal Daggers series by C.S. Johnson, called Heart of Hope and Fear. Read on for more details and a chance to win hardcover editions of the entire trilogy!!!

3 Heart of Hope and Fear front cover preview

Heart of Hope and Fear (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #3)

Publication Date: December 2nd, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance/ Historical Fantasy/ Spy Trilogy

In a moment of desperation and desire, one girl takes a leap of faith to secure the future of her nation — and save her family.

Prague, 1871

Despite the many demands that come with being a member of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, Eleanora Svobodová has plenty of reasons to celebrate. With Lumiere’s capture and Lady Penelope’s reluctant acceptance of Ferdy, not even Ben’s painful ire can completely diminish her joy.

But just as the future begins to look bright, the past catches up to Eleanora and the other members of the Order.

For as they investigate Karl’s disappearance, Eleanora learns the shocking secret about her mother’s final mission—and Lady Penelope’s treachery—just as the Emperor heads to Bohemia to conduct a special tripartite council, despite the threat to his life.

Can Eleanora and the Order find a way to save the kingdom? And even if they do, will they be able to survive a new betrayal from among their ranks?

Full of surprising twists and turns, Heart of Hope and Fear is the final book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a historical romance spy trilogy from C. S. Johnson.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Louis Valoris chuckled as he stirred his tea with a spoon. “I do believe it is time we were formally introduced, Lady Eleanora.”

“It’s you,” I whispered, shaking my head in shame.

“I must say, you look so much like your mother. Even in the moonlight, I would’ve sworn it was her ghost if Lumiere hadn’t found you and your brother last year.”

“Eleanora.” Lady Penelope scowled over at me.

I gave her an apologetic look, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good. She’d warned me before Louis was crafty and full of cunning, and I’d been completely caught off guard.

“I must commend you on her progress, Pepé,” Louis continued. “But she’s still very naïve, and that’s dangerous, especially for one who carries the weapon of the Order, yet none of its secrets. How do you know she won’t betray you when she learns the truth?”

“Eleanora is a loyal member of the Order,” Lady Penelope said, her voice full of resignation instead of pride. “She will not betray me.”

“It would be nice to see her live up to her mother’s legacy.”

At his disparaging tone, rage and fury rocked through me to my core. Lumiere had told me less than an hour ago how Louis had a hand in poisoning my mother and killing Nassara—and now I knew he’d used Xiana to fulfill his plans.

“The dead deserve some respect, Louis,” Lady Penelope warned, speaking before I could yell at him. “I’d rather talk of the present than the past, now that we’ve arrived at our final rendezvous.”

She reached down and pulled out her own violet-colored dagger in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Purchase Here!

About the Author

S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

CS Johnson | Facebook | Kofi

Giveaway: Click the link below for a chance to win a hardcover set of The Order of the Crystal Daggers Trilogy!

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#ReleaseBlitz “Daughter of the Yellow Dragon: A Mongolian Epic (Fractured Empire Saga, Book 1)” by Starr Z. Davies

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A Mongolian Epic

 

Fractured Empire Saga, Book 1

Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction

 

Release Date: September 13, 2021

Publisher: Pangea Books

Genghis Khan united a nation and created a vast empire for his heirs. But after 200 years of civil war, his empire has fallen into the dark ages.

Mandukhai dreams of being a fierce warrior woman, but her dreams are shattered when she is forced to become the second wife to the Great Khan.

Unebolod spent his life in the Great Khan’s shadow, preparing for a day when he can seize control of the empire. But when he forms a dangerous alliance with Mandukhai, it swiftly transforms into a passion that could destroy them both.

Just as the two are certain their fate will one day bring them together and make Unebolod the next Great Khan, a young prince surfaces to steal the Great Khan’s attention and the hearts of the nation.

Daughter of the Yellow Dragon is the first book in a gripping, gritty historical fiction series based on the epic life of one of the most underrated women in history. The series draws you into a world of brutal Mongol steppe life, deadly political games, and supernatural beliefs.

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Please be advised: This book contains adult situations, graphic violence, assault, and personal loss.

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Other Books in the Fractured Empire Saga:

Lords of the Black Banner

Book 2

Coming December 13, 2021

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Mother of the Blue Wolf

Book 3

Coming April 11, 2022

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Empress of the Jade Realm

Book 4

Coming Aug 22, 2022

Amazon

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About The Author

STARR Z. DAVIES is a Midwesterner at heart. While pursuing a degree at the University of Wisconsin, Starr gained a reputation as the “Character Assassin” because she had a habit of utterly destroying her characters emotionally and physically — a habit she steadfastly maintains. Starr’s new Mongolian Epic is based on the life of Queen Mandukhai — a powerful woman history seems to have forgotten.

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#ReleaseTour “She’s the One Who Doesn’t Say Much” by S.R. Cronin

She'sTheOne

Happy publication day to S.R. Cronin! Check out the latest installment in The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters! Read on for details and a chance to win a $20 amazon gift card and an Amazon gift copy of the first book in the collection, “She’s the One Who Thinks too Much“!

2021-0819 S R Cronin b04She’s the One Who Doesn’t Say Much (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters)

Publication Date: August 13th, 2021 (Today)

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Do you know what your problem is?

Olivine knows hers. This quiet thirteen century artist has been hiding a secret as she travels to K’ba to meet her friends. Others assume she’s fallen in love with another artist, and it’s not a match Mother would consider suitable. But it’s much worse than that. For on the way to K’ba is the dirt poor nichna of Scrud, a place scorned by other Ilarians. And in Scrud is the one man who understands her.

However, Bohdan recognizes the dangers posed by an impending Mongol invasion. When he learns of Olivine’s unusual visual powers, he convinces her to pick up her bow and start practicing.

She does, though she’s more concerned with producing enough art to run away from home and live in K’ba, where she can paint all day and see Bohdan as often as she wants. If only her sister hadn’t learned of what she can do and decided Olivine and her fellow long-eyes hold one of the keys to defending the realm.

Then, as if life wasn’t complicated enough, Olivine learns the artist community she yearns to be part of has developed a different take on the invasion. They’re certain the only way to survive is to capitulate completely to the Mongol’s demands. Artists who feel otherwise are no longer welcome.

Where does her future lie? The supposed invasion is coming soon and Olivine doesn’t have much time to decide.

The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story and perspective of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. While these historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister do you think saved the realm? That will depend on whose story you read.

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Excerpt

We lay together afterwards, talking as people do. I shared my ideas of living on my own in K’ba and he shared what he’d worked on recently. I’d already seen a set of beautiful bowls he’d carved with the knife I’d bought him. Now, he turned to a bin near his mat and pulled out a handful of small shivs, sized to fit in a skirt pocket.

“Our leaders in Scrud worry about these Mongols, too,” he said. “They worry the army won’t bother to defend the likes of us. But I’ve been thinking about the women in Ilari. We’ve heard what happens to females in an invasion. The idea of … my mother, my aunts, my sisters. It just makes me sick.”

“Women face added risks,” I said. “When conquered, we endure things men generally don’t.”

“I know. I thought I could make these, and give them to women to carry. Here, hold this.” He put one of the shivs in my hand. “What do you think? Could you defend yourself if you had this?”

I held the tiny weapon tight. Perhaps I imagined it, but the wood felt poised to defend me if I needed it to.

“I could do some damage, if it was up close and personal, which I guess it would be. And a surprise. Then maybe once they discovered how dangerous Ilari women are, they’d think twice before assaulting us.”

He nodded. “That’s what I’d hope for. I’m going to start making as many of these as I can. Give one to every woman I meet.”

I looked around at his meager belongings. There were no comforts to speak of. None. “Bohdan, don’t you think you should sell them? At least for a little something?”

“How could I do that? Come on, Olivine. No woman should have to pay me to keep herself safe.”

Then he looked at me and his eyes softened. He reached out and took a piece of my long bronze hair between his fingers and looked into my eyes. He’d already told me how much he loved their intense green color. I expected him to compliment them again, but instead he said “I wish you were more of a fighter.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I rather thought you liked me the way I was.”

He looked down, embarrassed. “Oh, I do. I mean I wish you had more ways to look out for yourself. You’re just not that physical, and I think force is all these monsters will understand.”

“I have physical skills.”

“Yes, so you’ve demonstrated. I don’t mean those, you’re great in that area.”

“I don’t mean in that area. They made me learn stuff in school, told me I had to develop my body to be well rounded.”

Right away I regretted saying it. The Royals of each nichna prided themselves on sponsoring basic education for children, everywhere but Scrud. If Scrud even had Royals, which I wasn’t sure they did. I’d already learned Bohdan was embarrassed he’d never been to school, although an older sister had taught him to read and write some.

“So what did they make you learn?” he asked.

“How to shoot with a bow and arrow.”

“Seriously? Are you any good?”

“I used to be. Surprised everyone, most of all me.” I paused. I hesitated to talk too much about the many things I’d gotten to do over the years, because Bohdan had been offered so few opportunities.

“I do this thing, it’s hard to explain, but if I focus on something small that’s far away, like a flower or a bee or a leaf, it comes into clear focus while everything else goes blurry.”

“Sounds useful for an artist.”

“Oh, it is. I used to think everyone could do it. I mean, who talks about how their eyes work, right? But when I was in Pilk I found out it’s called being a long-eye and it’s uncommon. Some artists have it but most don’t. Anyway, it helped me with archery, too. I got a kick out of shooting arrows and being good at something like that.”

He’d gone back to worrying. “If I asked you to pick up a bow again and practice, would you? For me?”

“Of course, but why? You know I’m trying to make as much art as I can so I can move to K’ba. There are only so many hours of light in a day.”

“True. But it could be a way to defend your home. I think Ilari will need all the fighters it can get, and all the kinds of fighters it can get.”

He just wasn’t going to stop fretting about the Mongols. I rolled my eyes.

“Okay. A little archery every day, I promise. The sunshine will do me good.”

Available on Amazon US & Amazon UK

She’s the One Who Doesn’t Say Much will also be available on B&N, Kobo, Apple, and Smashwords in late August.

About the Author

authorpicture

Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.

All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.

SR Cronin | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Troublesome Sisters | BookBub | Amazon | Goodreads

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#FREE “The Priestess and the Dragon (Dragon Saga Book 1)” by Nicolette Andrews

cover

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An arrogant dragon. A smart-mouthed priestess. The fate of the world depends on them working together.

Suzume’s life is ruined. Exiled to a remote mountain shrine, she is training to become a priestess. A life of poverty doesn’t suit her, and she dreams of her old life as a princess. When she accidentally awakens the god of the mountain, she discovers new powers and a whole lot of problems.

The god is a fake. For five hundred years, the dragon was trapped at the shrine. Betrayed by the woman he loved, he needs to find her reincarnation to get his revenge. Since Suzume freed him, he chooses her to help him. But when Suzume discovers she’s that woman, it’s a race to seal him again before he finds out.

With new powers come dangerous enemies. The dragon is not the only one she needs to worry about. A powerful monster wants Suzume for his own. Until she can learn to control her abilities, the dragon is the only one who can protect her. They must learn to work together to stop him, if they don’t kill each other in the process.

If you loved the fierce heroine from Throne of Glass and the action and adventure of InuYasha, you’ll love Nicolette Andrews’s The Priestess and the Dragon.

A story of love, magic, and revenge that readers say they couldn’t put down. Get the first book in this fast paced romantic fantasy series today!

FREE for a limited time at all online digital retailers!

Amazon

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#Featured “Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor

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Now optioned as a TV series for HBO, with executive producer George R. R. Martin!

An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language.

It doesn’t take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.

10th Anniversary Edition

1.99 at all online digital retailers for a limited time!

Amazon

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#BookBlitz “The Shadows of War (The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series, Book 8)” by Claire Youmans

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The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Series, Book 8

Historical Fantasy

Date Published: May 2021

Publisher: american i publishing

Japan, 1877. She fought for her identity. She won her dream. Now she’s not sure she wants it.

How can Toki-girl Azuki abandon what she’s worked so hard to achieve when rebellion threatens to shatter the Japanese Empire’s fragile internal peace and fracture its relations with the outside world?

Her uncle fears she’s causing mysterious events sabotaging her family. Azuki’s dual human-toki nature means something far more ancient and elemental could be at work, if only she can figure out what it is.

Birds teach dragons to dance. Eastern and Western dragons unite even as humans splinter in conflict. A princess wants to help the people she thinks she’s failed. Her small brother can’t keep a dangerous secret. Troops are on the move and tragedy looms as old ways clash with new hopes in Japan and the world.

Can Azuki stop the disruptions plaguing her family and help her nation prosper while trying to survive the rebellion shaking her country’s very soul?

The Shadows of War is the eighth book in the gripping Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series, where magical realism collides with historical fantasy in Claire Youmans’ enthralling Tales of the Meiji Era.

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Excerpt

THE SHADOWS OF WAR — CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

One access to Otohime’s caverns was through a lava tube in the crater of Mt. Fuji. Dragons, of course, didn’t need to use it. Non-dragons couldn’t reasonably get there unless in the company of one, or at least none ever had, so it actually served for ventilation. While Renko and Irtysh had deduced the way Ryuujin kept portions of his undersea palace filled with air on a continuous basis, dragons couldn’t create something out of absolutely nothing. They needed materials to work with.

Otohime had simply never thought about making air, not when so much was readily available to her. Even when she was under the sea watching the emerging volcanoes that fascinated her, she had never thought to make air. She just made sure she had an adequate supply before she left and transported more if she needed it. Dragons were diligent and usually acquisitive. They could be creative and artistic. They were not necessarily curious.

Irtysh was both artistic and creative. He was also diligent and a perfectionist. When impelled by the lure of something he wanted to have, or show, or do, he pursued it until he found a way. That wakened his nascent curiosity.

I want to try something,” he said to Otohime. “If you’ll indulge me.” He flourished his wings before tucking them in and made a slight bow.

She looked at him, secure in the seat he had made her, interested. “Something new?” she asked.

Yes and no.” He settled comfortably on the floor of her principle chamber. Quietly, without even thinking about it, he adjusted the rock here and there to give himself a suitable place to recline while in her company. She’d promised to make him a seat, just as he had made her one in his home, but she was still thinking about exactly what she might want. She also planned something to do with water, here, in her audience chamber, but she hadn’t decided on that yet, either.

When we have gone to see your volcanoes,” he reminded her, “we have gone together in your bubble of air. You have propelled us under the surface of the water. We talked about doing this high in the air, using my cloak, or perhaps joining our enclosures together. Would you like to try it?”

Yes!” Otohime didn’t want to tell him about what she’d been learning from Akira just yet, but that had emboldened her. Plus Irtysh always made her feel adventurous. That it was in part because she trusted him enough to feel safe with him didn’t change the fact. “How shall we do it?”

The two dragons, so dissimilar, soared high above Mt. Fuji. The atmosphere thinned, but they didn’t need to bother with that, because their air supplies were carried with them. Irtysh flew within his cloak, using his wings to move the air within and moving his cloak through the thinning atmosphere through that effort. Otohime created currents within her bubble to produce the same effect.

I’ll just be a moment,” Irtysh called, hovering. He reached outside his cloak to gather the bits of matter he needed to build a breathable atmosphere. Next he had to see if he could bring it within his cloak. He could transport it, of course, even from the denser atmosphere of the planet now far below, but he wanted to try building it from what was around him.

What are you doing?” Otohime asked, detecting the minuscule movement of the atmosphere around him.

Making air. It’s taking some time as there’s little to work with here.”

Otohime decided to try that herself. She found she could collect and concentrate the thin atmosphere. She could convey it into her bubble, yes. Irtysh was doing the same thing, she saw, watching his cloak expand.

Our sister,” Irtysh explained, “thinks she knows how his Majesty keeps his undersea chambers filled with air even in his absence. I want to see if I can manage it here.”

It’s not merely transporting air, whether from outside or what we make,” Otohime said, trying it. “I can do that, but I have to pay attention to it. Now that we’ve got the process for making it going, perhaps we can”—

Make a self-sustaining system,” Irtysh interrupted. “That’s what Renko thinks your father does. Do you have any ideas? I want to try this.” He tweaked the transport he’d arranged to make a flow and backed his control away from it.

This might work better.” Otohime duplicated his maneuver, but changed a detail.

Irtysh examined her work. “If we can just expand on this bit here,” he said, demonstrating.

We’ve got it!” Otohime cried, delighted, when she saw how well it worked. “We could have just asked Father, but this is much more fun.”

Do you think he would have told us?” Irtysh grinned.

Otohime grimaced. “I’m not sure. He does like to be the most powerful among dragons.”

As does Mother. They don’t like to give away their secrets, either of them. Shall we try merging our air supplies and joining them? Break off at once if it doesn’t work,” he cautioned.

We’re not too far to transport ourselves down to where we can breathe without bubbles,” Otohime reminded him. “Meet me halfway.”

It was sensuous, even intimate, the way their air containers touched, then merged into a single unit, Irtysh thought. The overlap required control, like trying to fly touching inside wings with end claws gripping while letting their outside wings carry them in synchronicity. He hadn’t tried that since he was a youth! It was exhilarating! Suddenly he felt he could do anything!

So he would.

Otohime? Will you make your currents support my wings and give me something more to push against so I can direct our flight?”

I can do that,” she replied. “Let me know what works best for you.” She thought that supporting his flight would be like supporting her own, but with a broader current, emphasized where his wings pushed. She began to move the air inside their joint bubble. She liked the feeling of their merged enclosure. She knew what it was to hold hands with a human; this was something of the same feeling, only more so in a way she didn’t want to examine at the moment. “Where are we going?”

It’s a surprise,” he said, flexing his strong wings against her air current to propel them onward with increasing speed. “I think we should both continue making air,” he continued. “We’re going further out and there will be even less to work with. In case one of us falters, either of us can keep the atmosphere going long enough to get us to safety.”

Do you think we could combine our atmosphere production?” she asked. That would truly be amazing. She’d never even thought of that before, but it seemed he had. “How?”

Like this,” he said, flashing her a schematic. “But I am not sure it would be safe to do so out here.”

Otohime recoiled when she first saw the diagram in her mind, but then she examined it carefully, fascinated. It was not only amazing, she realized, but such a joining of purpose and action would require a mental intimacy that went far beyond anything she had ever experienced, not even with her siblings when they worked and played together. It was deeper. It was more. More like what lovers might do, if they only could. Didn’t he realize that? What was he asking of her? What did he want? Then she remembered: he, of course, had never loved a human and she, despite her age, had never loved a dragon.

Around her, what she saw grew dark, punctuated with points of light she recognized as stars, more of them than she had ever seen, surrounding her, going on forever until they vanished in a faint mist of light. Brighter spheres were planets, some of which she recognized. And there—she saw the sun, glowing with a fiery rim she had only previously seen during eclipses, with occasional jets of flame shooting out of it that must extend many thousands of ri to be visible from here. More stars spread out before her, a glowing waterfall of sparkling light, running thick where the Amanogawa seemed to flow, truly a river of stars.

Mesmerized, she watched, nearly falling into the vastness of the universe around them, barely noticing where Irtysh was carrying them as her currents of air lifted his wings. Because of the way they flew and the need to make air currents, when she looked straight ahead, she could only see his dark hide, so she looked to the stars, at the points of light that seemed to never end. She had no idea how long they had traveled or how far when she felt herself vanish, pulled along through the ether by Irtysh transporting them both until they appeared with a thunk on something solid, their joint atmospheric container surrounding them.

They were on solid ground, she saw. It wasn’t, but it looked like the inside of the Fuji crater more than anywhere else Otohime had ever been. Dust, rocks, what looked like ash and little pits where rocks had struck. She could tell from a quick scan outside the container in which they stood that there was precious little in the way of atmospheric building blocks outside.

Otohime. Look!”

Her gaze followed Irtysh’s extended wing. Otohime gasped. Rising in the sky ahead of them was a huge blue object, white swirls circling around its surface. It was magnificent in its beauty. She regarded it with wonder for a moment then turned to look at the Western dragon.

He looked tired, but sublimely satisfied.

Where are we?” she said. ‘What is that?”

He smiled. “We are on the moon, and that is the Earth. I said I would bring you to the moon, and with your help, I have done so.” He bowed. “Do you like it?”

It is more splendid than I ever would have thought.” She bowed in return. “Irtysh, thank you.”

He essayed another bow in response, and she could see from the droop of his wings that the journey really had tired him.

Let us simply admire it for a while,” Otohime said. “You give me the most incredible things, and I am grateful.”

They rested on the lunar surface, watching the earth rise. Otohime pointed out the weather patterns. Irtysh found he had no trouble recognizing them because of something Ryuujin had said about enjoying watching weather from the upper atmosphere. Ryuujin would enjoy doing that even more from here, Irtysh thought, but wasn’t sure he would ever tell the Dragon King about this! This was a gift for Otohime. Fascinated, he watched the cloud formations circle themselves and move across the surface of the planet. He could distinguish land masses but couldn’t tell what they were. It was all so beautiful. He felt himself growing stronger, but though he felt he could easily take them home, he didn’t want to. Not yet.

Irtysh.”

He looked at the Eastern Dragon Princess he found in all ways beautiful and smiled gently.

I have been learning to dance the way the eagles dance in the air on the earth.”

He tilted his great head, encouraging her to continue.

I don’t do it very well yet, but I have memories and images I can project. We should be able to do it from within our joint bubble if we work together like we did to come here.” She extended her whiskers and beckoned an invitation.

Irtysh, will you dance with me?”

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Other books in the The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series:

Coming Home

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book One

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Chasing Dreams

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Two

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Together

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Three

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Uncle Yuta has an Adventure

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Four

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Noriko’s Journey

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Five

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The Dragon Sisters

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Six

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The Eagle and the Sparrow

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Seven

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About the Author

Claire Youmans first went to Japan in 1992 and was immediately captivated. After years of travel and study, she continues to be charmed and amazed by a fascinating history and a culture that’s both endearingly quirky and entirely unique.

In 2014, she started Tales of the Meiji Era with The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy’s unparalleled blend of historical fantasy and magical realism in Coming Home. She continues exploring the combination of history and folklore to share her love and fascination with a very different country and culture.

Exciting adventures continue to unfold in this delightful fantastical yet historical world as social and political changes expand, technology explodes, and two very unusual children grow up.

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#ReleaseBlitz “She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)” by S.R. Cronin

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Happy publication day to S.R. Cronin! Check out this brand new Historical Fantasy, She’s the One Who Gets in Fights and enter for a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card!

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She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)

Publication Date: May 14th, 2021 🎉

Genre: Historical Fantasy

It’s the 1200’s, and the small realm of Ilari has had peace and prosperity for generations. That doesn’t mean every citizen is happy, however.
Sulphur, the third of seven sisters, is glad the older two have been slow to wed. It’s given her the freedom to train as a fighter, in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining Ilari’s army. Then, within a matter of days, both sisters announce plans and now Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry.
Is it Sulphur’s good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending Mongol invasion? And the army is going door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision.
Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
Everywhere she turns, someone is counting on her to fight for what’s right. But what is?

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Excerpt

In early spring, after the last of the snow melted and the mud dried, I told my parents I wished to visit friends I’d made while studying. Then I rode to Pilk to learn more about joining the Svadlu. I knew they had a booth at the largest market there, often staffed by Svadlu officers who’d answer questions. I had a lot of them.

They accepted women, but what were the standards? Were they the same as for the men? Being a Svadlu provided status and a fair amount of pay, so they never wanted for recruits. How many people who tried to join were accepted?

The next day I found the booth. Officers wore cloaks of saffron yellow, but this man boasted a scarlet cape covered in regalia, identifying him as a Mozdol. My nervousness surprised me as I approached him.

“Hello, lass,” he greeted me with warmth. “Let me guess. You’ve got a younger brother who wants to join us but he’s too nervous to come talk to me himself. Am I right?” He seemed pleased. With what? That he induced nervousness in potential recruits?

“Uh, no. Sir. I was hoping to get some information on me joining.”

“You?”

He looked at me more closely. Of course I wore a dress, not my fighting clothes, so I didn’t much look the part, but he squinted at me anyway.

“You’re tall. Well-muscled for a woman and you look to be in good shape. Have you ever held a sword?”

“I’ve been sparring since I was a child.”

That impressed him.

“And I’ll do whatever you need to me to. Answer questions about weapons, engage in fights, perform tests of strength, whatever you need.” I spoke too fast in my eagerness.

“Slow down,” he chuckled. “All that’s good, but actually, none of it matters compared to what I’m going to tell you next.”

He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure how to explain this vital fact to someone as ignorant as me.

“You’re a farmgirl, right?” He looked at my clothes again.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, the Svadlu are more of a city operation. We do things differently than on the farm.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean being a member of the Svadlu is a pretty good deal. Lots of young people want in.”

“I know. That’s why I’ve worked so hard.”

“And that’s good, but most successful recruits get in because they have a sponsor. You know, someone already in the Svadlu who vouches for them. Um, especially if you’re, well, you know, a woman. Then it helps a great deal if one of us says you’re up to it.”

“But I can prove I’m up to it!”

“I suspect you can.” The look he gave me held respect, but he stayed firm. “A sponsor makes the difference. Why don’t you ask around? Surely your family knows someone who can help you.”

He looked up. Several people stood behind me now, all hoping to talk to him. “If you’ll excuse me …”

I rode back to Vinx dejected. I already knew my family had no contacts in the Svadlu and I had no idea of who I could turn to find some. Why did I have to know someone in order to get in? What stupid kind of way was that to run an army?

Available on Amazon

Will be available through Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Nobel later this month!

About the Author

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Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.

All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.

SR Cronin | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

International Giveaway: Win a $30 Amazon Gift! Giveaway will run from today until May 17th!

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#BookSale “Nineteen Seventy: A New Orleans Witches Family Saga (The Seven Book 1)” by Sarah M. Cradit

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One of the seven will die. There’s nothing they can do to stop it.

“You definitely will not want to miss this one!”
“Seriously one of the best books I have read.”
“Exceeded every single one of my expectations.”
“The way the story unravels and weaves through the lives of the family was remarkable.”
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1970. New Orleans. The seven Deschanel siblings live with their long-suffering mother in an historic Garden District mansion. Each of them unique. Each of them born with a gift. In some cases, a gift they wish they could give back.

When August Deschanel died, he left his wife, Irish Colleen, with more than seven children to raise. She inherited a job she was never prepared for: bringing up his heirs in a world she doesn’t understand. She’d never seen true magic, not before marrying into the most prominent-and mysterious-family in New Orleans. Now, she can’t escape it.

Irish Colleen knows a terrible secret. Her youngest, a prophet, has seen a future that is unavoidable: the Deschanels will not leave 1970 without losing one of the seven. She knows only that it will happen, but not when, how… or to whom.

Charles, the playboy heir apparent. Augustus, the family fixer. Colleen, the unfailing pragmatist. Madeline, the bleeding heart. Evangeline, the genius. Maureen, the dreamer. Elizabeth, the tortured one.

One of her children must die, and Irish Colleen can do nothing to stop it.

Seven Siblings. Seven Years. Seven Spellbinding Novels.

FREE at time of posting!

(Verify price before downloading)

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#BookSale “Killing Commendatore: A novel” by Haruki Murakami

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When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he secludes himself in the mountain home of a world famous artist. One day, the young painter hears a noise from the attic, and upon investigation, he discovers a previously unseen painting. By unearthing this hidden work of art, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances; and to close it, he must undertake a perilous journey into a netherworld that only Haruki Murakami could conjure. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art, Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

2.99 for a limited time!

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