Thursday, August 15, 2019

Bookish Mewsings (featuring Book Beginnings & Friday 56): The Master Key & The Shadow of the Fox



Along with my mini reviews, I am linking to both Book Beginnings, a meme in which readers share the first sentence of a book they are reading, hosted by Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader and Friday 56 hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice, in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading.


The Master Key by Masako Togawa, translated by Simon Grove
Pushkin Vertigo, 2017 (originally published in 1962
Crime Fiction; 193 pages

Book Beginning: 
On that day, the snow (unusual for April) which had fallen on the night before was still half an inch deep in the morning. But before midday the sun peeped through the clouds and a thaw set in. In no time at all, the streets once again danced in the sunshine of spring.   

Friday 56 [excerpt from 56% of e-book]: 
She continued her practice of writing one letter a day to her former students, but with less enthusiasm than before. On her way out to post them every morning, she would glace at the master key and secretly envy the receptionist within whose power it lay to enter every room in the block.
It was essential that she should get her hands on that key. 

My bookish mewsings:

Sometimes shorter novels fail to fill one’s appetite for a good story. That was not the case with The Master Key. Masako has a gift for taking seemingly random pieces of various stories, bringing them together, and creating an intriguing and satisfying tale. It is Postwar Tokyo. And, in a rather unusual move, city engineers are preparing to move, intact, the K Apartment House for Ladies. Readers are taken back in time throughout the novel, getting glimpses into the lives of the various women who live in the building, many of their stories connecting in unexpected ways, while always something dark seems to be hanging overhead. Every one of them has their own secrets, and it seems someone among them is uncovering them all, including the body of the baby who had been buried on the grounds seven years before. There was a strong sense of foreboding that hung over me as I read The Master Key, anticipating what I would discover next. I was thoroughly engaged in this dark and entertaining little novel.



The Shadow of the Fox (The Shadow of the Fox, #1) by Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen, 2018
Fantasy (YA); 416 pgs

Book Beginning:
It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night she died. 

Friday 56 [excerpt from 56% of e-book]: 
"Tatsumi." Yumeko stepped forward, her eyes gazing worriedly at the side of my neck where the gaki had clawed it. I could feel blood from the torn flesh beginning to seep into my collar. My arm, too, was starting to drip blood on the wooden planks. "Before we do anything, we should take care of those. Do you have any medicine left?" 

My bookish mewsings

 Julie Kagawa is one of those authors I have been wanting to try for awhile now, and I am grateful to those who voted for it in my May TBR List Poll. Her home destroyed and the monks who raised her no more, Yumeko is on a quest to deliver a portion of a sacred scroll to a far off temple, whose exact whereabouts is unknown. She seeks help from Kage Tatsumi, a samurai of the Shadow Clan, whose strength and ability to slay demons will be invaluable to her along her journey. The only catch? He is on a mission to retrieve the very scroll she has, and she knows instinctively she cannot let it fall into his hands. She also hides another secret from the quiet and deadly Tatsumi. That she is half human, half kitsune.

Yumeko should seem too sweet for her own good, but, honestly, I fell for her character instantly. A bit mischievous and yet so kindhearted. She has a naivety about her, and yet she is extremely resourceful and has good instincts. I also really came to like Kage Tatsumi. He is trained to suppress his emotions and lives by a very strict code—part of which is probably for good reason. However, he finds it impossible not to want to protect Yumeko for more reasons than just the one that will lead him to the scroll (not realizing she actually has it). Along their journey, the two pick up other unexpected company. The villains in this novel made me shiver, particularly the main one. So much darkness and evil.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading The Shadow of the Fox. It has been awhile since I read a more traditional fantasy novel, and I especially loved that this one combined Japanese folklore and other Japanese elements into it. I hate that it ended with a cliffhanger, but I was not at all surprised. These types of books often do. I ordered the sequel right away. Then I’ll just have to wait forever for the third and final book in the trilogy to come out. I cannot wait to spend more time with Yumeko! We all need someone like her in our lives.


Do either of these books appeal to you? Or perhaps you have read them? If so, what did you think? 


© 2019, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

43 comments:

  1. Your book beginning certainly starts off when some serious foreshadowing. My Friday Quotes

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    1. Anne - Oh, yes! The Shadow of the Fox does have a bit of foreshadowing. That particular thread plays out fairly quickly in the first chapter so the reader doesn't have to wait long to find out what happened. Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. I like the writing of The Master Key. I've never heard of it before, so thanks for mentioning it.

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    1. Breana - I like the author's writing too. I would like to read more by her, I think. Thank you for visiting!

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  3. I think I'd like The Master Key - I don't think I've ever read a mystery set in Tokyo.

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    1. Kathy - I think you might too! I hope you do get a chance to read it. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it. Thank you for stopping by!

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  4. Ooooh The Master Key sounds really good - I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for it!

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    1. Eustacia - It was short, but very satisfying! I hope you get a chance to read it. Thank you for visiting!

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  5. Love "danced in the sunshine of spring" from The Master Key's opening. I'm wondering why she needs to get her hands on that master key. Sounds like a good story that I'd enjoy.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.
    Sandy @ Writing With a Texas Twang.

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    1. Sandra - I love that line too. I hope you get to read The Master Key. It has quite a few twists and turns worth taking. Thank you for stopping by!

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  6. I've enjoyed the first two in The Shadow of the Fox series by Kagawa! I would certainly be interested in The Master Key--intriguing excerpts.

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    1. Jenclair - I need to read the second since I went through all the trouble of pre-ordering it and everything. I'm so bad . . . I read a bit of a spoiler when coming across mention of the third book. At least it wasn't an unexpected spoiler. At least from my wishful thinking standpoint.

      I think you would like The Master Key. I hope you get a chance to read it.

      Thank you for visiting, Jenclair!

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  7. Fun that both novels set in Japan start out with the weather, but they each have a different tone.

    I'm always disappointed when an author of a trilogy chooses to end a book on a cliffhanger. There are many ways to entice a reader to buy the next book, particularly having compelling characters who the readers feel connected to.

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    1. Roberta - I hadn't noticed that, but you are right! How funny!

      I am not a huge fan of cliffhangers either. I tend to tolerate them more when I have the next book handy to read, but when I don't it feels like I've been cheated a bit. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I enjoyed The Shadow of the Fox and am eager to read the sequel. This week I am spotlighting Stolen Things by R. H. Herron from my review stack. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - I hope to get to the sequel soon. The Shadow of the Fox was so good, wasn't it? Thank you for visiting!

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  9. I loved Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series, so I'm sure I'd like The Shadow of the Fox. The snippets and your review have me wanting to read it even more. Hope you have a great weekend! :)

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    1. Ashley - I have the first of her Iron Fey series in my TBR pile and have been wanting to read it for awhile now. I just happened to get to The Shadow of the Fox first. I am glad to hear you like her Iron Fey series! I hope you have a great weekend too. Thank you for stopping by!

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  10. Not one for me I think, though on this hot and humid day, it did make me dream of snow and weather. (LOL I know, not the point of the book, but I take my happy where I can find it. ;-) ) I'd love for you and your readers to check out mine. https://lisaksbookthoughts.blogspot.com/2019/08/its-cozy-food-friday-that-means-its.html

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    1. Lisa - I can understand that. :-) It's been so hot lately! Thank you for visiting!

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  11. The Master Key sounds good and I like the occasional short but satisfying book. I've heard amazing things about Julie Kagawa but her books have never really pulled at me.

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    1. Katherine - I was really impressed with The Master Key, especially given how short it was. And yet it was the perfect length for that particular story, I think. Yeah, The Shadow of the Fox is more traditional fantasy, and will likely not appeal to anyone who doesn't gravitate toward that genre. Thank you for stopping by, Katherine!

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  12. I've yet to read anything by Julie Kagawa. She's one of those authors that appears on people's lists all the time but I don't know where to start with her books!

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    1. Nicci - I have a long list of authors like that. :-) Thank you for visiting!

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    1. Lark - Maybe you will get a chance to read them. :-) Thank you for stopping by!

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  14. I agree with you about shorter books. I generally prefer around 300 pages. Enjoy your weekend and thanks for stopping by Colletta's Kitchen Sink :)

    Colletta

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    1. Colletta - Same here. This one actually worked very well for its length. The author used her words well. :-) I hope you enjoy your weekend too! Thank you for visiting!

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  15. I read Shadow of the Fox, it was my intro into Japanese folklore. :-) Happy weekend!

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    1. Freda - I kept turning to my husband as I read, "Did you know . . .?" He's much more up on Japanese folklore than I am. I hope you have a great weekend too! Thank you for stopping by, Freda!

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  16. I loved Shadow of the Fox too! Lucky you that you get to keep reading now. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Nicole - It really was as good as everyone said it would be! Thank you for visiting!

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  17. I have read, and liked Shadow of the Fox, but the other one is new to me. Most Japanese fiction I read is contemporary and/or magical realism.

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    1. Nicki - I haven't read a whole lot of Japanese fiction, but it seems like crime fiction/mysteries top that short list. It was nice to branch out with Shadow of the Fox. I really like reading about different folklore and mythology from other cultures and countries. Thank you for stopping by!

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  18. The Master Key sounds like a dark and intriguing story. I'm glad that it was a good story despite being shorter in length. I love when a bunch of what appears to be random stories connect, and all the pieces fall in to place, creating the full picture.

    I haven't read anything by Julie Kagawa, but have heard wonderful things about her stories. I'm glad that your reading of her story paid off. Yumeko sounds like a wonderful character!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

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    1. Lindy - I like that too. Not all authors can pull off bringing many different threads together like that, but Togawa did it very well.

      I really like Yumeko. I can't wait to spend more time with her.

      Thank you for visiting!

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  19. I've not read anything by Julie Kagawa and I'm really curious of this series after hearing how much you and Jenclair enjoyed reading this.

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    1. Melody - I hope you like it if you give it a try, Melody. I hope to dive into the second book soon! Thank you for stopping by!

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  20. Wow Shadow of the Fox sounds great! I definitely want to read it. I love the kitsune element. And I need a good fantasy read also. :)

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    1. Greg - It was really good! I highly recommend it. I hope you enjoy it if you read it. Thank you, Greg!

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  21. I think that I might have a copy of Shadow of the Fox but haven't read it yet. It sounds like I should. These both sound really interesting, Wendy!

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  22. The Shadow of the Fox is one I've been meaning to read since last year so I'm glad to hear how much you enjoyed it. Yukmeko sounds like a character I would love too.

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  23. I tried reading Julie Kagawa's Talon, but it was too YA tropish, and it had too many repetitive phrases like "He cocked his head". People kept telling me it would get better, but after 50% and about ten testosterone fueled guy fights on the beach, I gave up. I wonder if I would like this one better? Too bad it's not a standalone. 📚

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