Wattpad

So a while ago, I got a Wattpad account on advice from a friend. I meant to post about this sooner but I kept forgetting. I’ve only written short stories so far, but I’d like to get to more longer stuff. Plotting and world-building really take a bit. Have a Wattpad? Check me out @IcyNotBubbly. I’m working on the third short story for my runaways trilogy (titled A Night in Eden but I might change it to match the other two) and a longer story.

 

 

On another note, volume 11 of The Demon Prince of Momochi House came out last Tuesday. I’ll try to get the summary for it out soon, I won’t give a date or timeline, but I will say, OMG! Creepy, awesome, why-can’t-I-get-the-next-volume-now-what-happens-next? feel. So stay tuned for that!

I hope everybody has a pleasant weekend!

 

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eBook Finish! Momochi House, vol. 9

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It starts with a wish.

At the start of the chapter Himari thinks about what it would be like if Aoi wasn’t the Nue and bound to the house. They would go to school together and happily enjoy life outside of Momochi house.

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In another world…

Even as she wishes this there is a little niggling whisper that asks if it can really happen.

Back to the present Mr. Nanamori tells Himari that Aoi is dead. He’s talking but the reader doesn’t get to see his words. She wonders if wishful thinking can really overcome the obstacle she’s facing concerning Aoi and his fading humanity.

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Himari is suddenly separated from Mr. Nanamori and drawn to a place within the spiritual where she’s reunited with Ise. Akane appears in demon mode and tries to attack Himari but Ise fends her off. Ise can take care of her easily but Himari stops him.

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Don’t hurt Rosemary’s baby!

Demon-Akane is agitated, saying “disappear” over and over. She says she sent her the note so Himari wouldn’t tell and that Aoi was supposed to be a secret. Demon-Akane tells Himari to stop saying “Aoi” but before she attacks a voice yells out, “don’t eat her!”

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Letter from a Thief: “we never need to tell”

It’s Akane in human form! The Demon Akane drifts over to where the human Akane is and they are side by side. They’re twins!

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Rosemary’s Baby: Shadow Twins

The scene flashes back to Mr. Nanamori telling Himari how Akane was supposed to have a twin but it disappeared during the pregnancy. They were going to name the other twin “Aoi” (Akane means red and Aoi means blue if those were the characters the parents were going to use).

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Vanishing twin

The ayakashi “Aoi” tells Akane she has to devour Himari even though Akane is assured by Himari’s words that everything will be fine. “Aoi” is unconvinced and reveals that Ise was the beautiful young man that came to the Nanamori house to exterminate the ayakashi living there.

Ise confirms this but says he was ordered by Aoi not to touch his “sister.” Turns out “Aoi” was a weak ayakashi drawn to Aoi but unable to do anything to him because of his strong powers. She hid in Aoi’s stepmom’s womb out of fear, attached herself to his baby sister and now they’re fused together, essentially Akane’s shadow.

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Mysterious stranger revealed

Now that he knows the truth, Ise is says he has to get rid of “Aoi” or else she might try to devour someone else. Himari is not too keen on the idea and tries to suggest taking “Aoi” to Momochi house like they did with the fox spirits but is shot down since “Aoi” is too weak and will disappear if separated.

Before Ise can do anything, Akane steps in front of “Aoi” saying she won’t let him hurt “Aoi.” Akane remembers how she first met “Aoi” and how even though her parents would get sad about the missing “someone” it turns out they’d been together the whole time.

She calls “Aoi” her sister and that she cares about her. If she’s bad then Akane will stop her every time so don’t take her away!

When Himari asks Akane if she’s afraid of ayakashi, Akane replies why would she be afraid because “Aoi” is her family.

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“Aoi” is moved by Akane’s love for her and even though she knows that Aoi should be the one who’s a part of the family, she’s sorry and wants to be with Akane.

Himari tells them that she and Ise will stop “Aoi” if she gets out of hand again and how she wants to believe humans and ayakashi can live together. Her wish is that they can become a family and is sure Aoi feels the same way.

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Back at Momochi house, the Nue and Kasha watch it all, with Kasha bored at the conclusion. Kasha says he wants to see the Nue lose control and before he can stop him, Kasha transports himself to the realm Himari and the others are at.

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Here’s Kasha!

The Nue rushes to other realm where Kasha starts taunting Himari about how useless she is as Aoi still hasn’t transformed back.

Himari remains undaunted and refuses to be bothered by Kasha’s words. He tells her that evil spirits love corruption, ogres suffering, and what demons love is chaos. The Nue is about to threaten Kasha not to lay a hand on Himari when Kasha interrupts him, saying he remembers the terms of their bet and goes after Akane!

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Taken 4: Ayakashi-napped!

“Aoi” puts herself in front of Akane and Kasha kills her. Before disappearing, she tells Akane she’ll always be with her.

Stupid Kasha, ruining everything!! He’s interesting but I still don’t like that guy! It’s so sad, but kinda sweet; before “Aoi” disappears she thinks about how ayakashi exist simply to do as they please- like how she scared Aoi away, how she appeared before Akane and spent time with her, starts developing a feeling she can’t name. Because she’s an ayakashi and because she wants to be with Akane, she’ll do as she pleases and stay with her sister.

Nue is pissed. He starts attacking Kasha much to the creeper’s enjoyment. Kasha taunts the Nue for his weak human bonds and accuses him of pretending to be human. Himari refutes this, saying no matter what Aoi is human and the inhabitants of Momochi house will be his ties.

 

Done playing, Nue uses his powers to bury Kasha under rubble but the demon picks himself and then disappears, satisfied he managed to rile the Nue up.

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Angry doesn’t cover it

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“Chill, bro”

Akane comes up to the Nue and asks who he is and where’s “Aoi?” What happens next is like when you give your scared little sister a spray bottle and tell them it’s monster repellent when really it’s just water.

Nue conjures a ball of light that Akane assumes is “Aoi” and tells her he’s taking it back to the ayakashi world with him. Akane is sad she won’t see her sister anymore but Nue reassures her that even though they’re apart their hearts are connected.

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Brief meeting

Suddenly, Mr. Nanamori comes crashing into the spirit realm. He’s relieved Akane is okay and recognizes Ise. While he’s grateful their lives were saved he begins to plead with Ise not to take Akane away like her sister. Ise tells him he doesn’t need anything from him.

Himari tries to get Nue to go to his dad but Nue refuses.

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Akane tells her dad that she knew about her twin sister and Mr. Nanamori tells her they planned to name her Aoi. He wonders why the name lingers in his head when he sees the sunset, a vague reminder his son isn’t completely forgotten.

Ise recalls a young Aoi asking him to run an errand to his house and make sure his family isn’t worried about him. Ise pretty much guessed what the house’s powers did and when he saw Aoi’s parents forgot about their son he told them that he took something from them, that something being their son.

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Something important

It looks like Aoi has found his way back after forgetting what it is to be human. Himari looks over and sees him transforming back to human. She immediately tries to get to see his dad one more time, even if it’s just a glimpse.

Aoi simply shakes his head and hold Himari close, telling her it’s alright. He doesn’t have to see his dad to accept his past. Though Himari doesn’t seem happy, she accepts his decision as Akane tells her dad even though “Aoi” is gone they’ll always be together because they’re family.

Now that Aoi has found his way home (in a sense) things are returning to normal. Himari is walking home from school with her friends, telling them that things are resolved when they ask about her search for her “friend’s” house. They tell her about a festival tonight and invite her along. She tells them before she goes, she has some things to do first.

Those “things” being preparing a surprise party for Aoi.

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Party time!

Even though he didn’t really go anywhere, he was stuck in that dark room as the Nue so Himari thought it’d be nice to let him have some fun. While Aoi’s taking a “nap” (courtesy of a blow to the head), Himari and the others get to work on setting everything up.

Setting up some sunflowers for decoration, Himari says she’s always wanted to be cheery like one and wonders if her name comes from the Japanese word for sunflowers, himawari (向日葵). While in the store-room with Yukari, she remembers the guardian of the gate told her the “Hi” in her name meant light (光)

Yukari is looking for something to surprise Aoi with, finding some interesting things. He mentions Aoi told him how Himari chose Aoi’s drawer in the Drawers of Thought knowing she could never open hers and find out about her parents. Himari expresses no regret and Yukari starts to tell her about how Aoi found a diary written by her mother.

A few years after Aoi became trapped in Momochi house, he’s spending every waking moment trying to banish all the evil spirits running rampant in the house. He’s getting really burned out, to the point where tells Yukari he wishes he were an ayakashi. It’s life he doesn’t want to live anymore.

One day, Aoi comes across a diary that looked severely damaged. It belonged to Himari’s mother. She didn’t have enough power to become the Omamori-sama but lived in the house. She married a man, had a daughter, and lived a quiet happy life.

Halfway through the diary, black stains spread larger and larger over the pages. Aoi makes out that Himari’s mother was afraid of something just before he gets to pages that had rotted away. Yukari rescues him just as something bad bursts out of the pages. Then the spirits of Himari’s parents come out.

What little power they had left, they used it to put a message in the diary. Yukari explains that Momochi descendants who aren’t powerful enough to become the Nue’s vessel eventually fall prey to the impurities of the house. This is what happened to Himari’s parents.

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Himari’s mother says that the Momochi name was too much of burden but despite her short life, she was happy. She asks that whoever is getting this message, whether her daughter or someone else, they hope their daughter will come and bring stability to the house and that they love her.

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“Please tell her we love her”

The spark that had left Aoi’s eyes comes back as he resolves to live on so when the couple’s child comes back, she can live safely.

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Finding purpose

It explains why, when Himari fell ill in volume 1 after an ayakashi attacked her, a distraught Aoi said there was no reason to keep living if anything happened to her.

Himari is happy and comforted by Yukari and Aoi’s words. She’s happy that her mother’s last words, the feelings in them, became a source of hope for Aoi and connected to Himari. She starts crying a little, thinking how Aoi should have told her sooner, and thinks about how much she loves him. Yukari hugs her and thanks her for bringing Aoi back.

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Himari finally goes to wake up Aoi and everyone surprises him with the party. There’s dancing, an attempt to sing the Momochi rejection song (see volume 6), an oshiruko (red-bean soup with bits of rice cake in it) fountain, and then we get to Himari’s surprise.

She found fireworks in the store-room! But when she tries to light them, nothing. Since they’re ayakashi fireworks, Aoi turns into the Nue and uses fox fire to light them. And away they go!

Dragons of light appear when the fireworks go off and Aoi says they were yokai fireworks rather than regular fireworks. He’s in the process of thanking Himari for the party when she interrupts him. She’s amazed the Momochi residents are riding the light dragons but Aoi isn’t so surprised since they’re ayakashi fireworks.

Himari grabs his hand and leads him to the biggest firework. It’s already been lit and before it goes off, Himari grabs Aoi and they hop on.

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Ayakashi fireworks

On the light dragon, the two head out where Himari shows him the lights of the town Aoi is protecting and thanks him. Down below, Hayato hears the fireworks, but an old man tells him it’s probably thunder. He also tells him that long ago, the sound was attributed to ayakashi playing with fireworks.

Yukari and Ise watch Himari and Aoi above and relax, since it seems Aoi is still withing Momochi house’s boundaries. Yukari says that one day Himari may be the one to lead Aoi back to the human realm. He notes that the kanji for himawari can be read as aoi (this one: 葵) or “mallow that faces the sun” (向= toward, 日= sun, and 葵= mallow).

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Aoi and Himari

Aoi suddenly tells Himari the meaning of her name. “A light of great distance” (I don’t the kanji for that, sorry). Her parents wrote that they hope her light can extend great distances. Aoi finally told her about her parents and Himari thinks that her parents feelings became a bond that reached her.

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“A light of great distance”

Aoi tells her he’s been protecting the light Himari’s name is based on and that she in turn has been protecting him. He kisses her forehead and thanks her. Himari protests that she hasn’t done anything and I would disagree. She kept him human. To be specific, she kept Aoi from sinking into darkness, from not caring about anything, from becoming an ayakashi that can’t tell the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong.

Be moment of truth here. Aoi finally admits that he loves Himari!! With a kiss and everything!!

Boom:

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*insert fangirl squeal*

I feel like this was a real long one. I’m glad everything worked out okay and Aoi finally admits he loves Himari!! Yaay, no holding back! So, what’s gonna happen with these two love-birds? Find out in volume 10!

 

 

 

eBook Finish! The Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 8!

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Last volume: evil teacher Nachi was the one who basically sent Aoi to Momochi House, wanting to capture and control the power of the Omamori-sama. He was also the one behind the paper seals, one of which harmed the dragon god Ryujin. Thanks to the residents of Momochi house, Nachi is defeated but it seems Aoi can’t transform back from the Nue!

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We start off with Himari having breakfast but she doesn’t seem to have much appetite. It’s been three days since the the shikigami ushered the Nue away and kept him isolated in a part of Momochi house. Himari asks Yukari if she can go see the Nue which is okay for little while.

The Nue is kept in a part of the house Himari’s never seen before with these special ropes to seal him in the room. For his peace of mind, the Nue says. When Himari visits him, the Nue explains that when Nachi was defeated, Aoi’s memories should have returned right away. Only they didn’t so Aoi’s memories of his past still haven’t returned and that human part of him that he lost is being filled by an ayakashi.

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The void in Aoi

Himari resolves to find out about Aoi’s past and get the Nue to turn back. After she leaves the room, Kasha appears through the rear screen to give his two cents. He remarks how Himari never even asked the Nue if he wanted to turn back. Kasha’s scheming again and the Nue pretty much tells him it’s none of his business and not to touch Himari.

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Kasha sneaking in

At school, Rui comes up to Himari and tells her she found the Nanamori house in a town on the other side of the mountain. Handing out candy for the children’s association, Rui ran out before she could give some to the Nanamori house. She gives a couple of bags to Himari to take and tells her that Nanamori family had lost a child.

Himari goes to visit the family with Ise, who came along per the Nue’s orders. As they’re walking, Himari suddenly gets splashed with water!

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Pokemon GO!

Turns out it was Mrs. Nanamori who accidentally got Himari. While drying her clothes inside, Himari talks to her a bit and offers a bag a of candy for her child. Mrs. Nanamori assures that it’s just one bag that’ll do. Himari notices a there’s no resemblance between her and Aoi.

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Aoi’s family, pt 1

Her uniform dry Himari takes her leave. As she’s leaving, a little girl comes home. Her name is Akane. Her mother admonishes her for walking home alone but Akane assure her that her dad had picked her up.

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Aoi’s family, pt 2

Mr. Nanamori walks through the gate and thanks Himari for stopping by. Himari notices that Aoi looks like his dad.

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Aoi’s family pt 3

Akane unwraps her gum and wins a prize. She decides to catch Himari before she gets too far and thank her.

Up ahead Ise and Himari are discussing whether or not that was Aoi’s family and Ise tells her that Akane is an ayakashi, which Akane overhears. Alone in some bushes, Akane is muttering to herself about how they know about Aoi. With a frightening look on her face, she decides that she’ll just devour them.

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Rosemary’s Baby

Kasha and the Nue are watching Himari with Kasha assuring the Nue that he won’t lay a hand on her as she’s insignificant. He asks if they should make a wager.

Of course, the Nue is not about to something as foolish as that. Kasha tells the Nue to play a game with him, saying neither of them will interfere with Himari’s search. Kasha says that if Himari doesn’t find Aoi’s past he’ll just take it for himself, whatever that means.

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Kasha’s games

Meanwhile Himari is trying to get Ise to tell her what he meant about Akane being an ayakashi. Ise’s not budging though, and Yukari comes in and tells Himari that as Aoi’s shikigami they can’t tell her anything that Aoi won’t.

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Questions

Later that night, Himari’s lying in bed thinking about how she’s hit a dead end. She knows that Aoi is on the verge of forgetting his human self and becoming a full ayakashi. She wonders what she would do in his situation.

Suddenly she hears a clattering sound coming from her drawers. It’s the winter cherry lantern Nekobaba gave her last volume. It’s lighting up and is showing Himari a path.

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Light the path

Kasha and Nue watch as Himari enters the spiritual realm. While Kasha tries to interfere, the Nue keeps distractions off her path. Then Himari is led to a gate and meets its guardian.

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Watching the board

At first, the guardian of the gate wants to devour her but as it turns out he ran out of sake. Since Himari doesn’t have a pass to go through the gate, the guardian will have to accept her soul in exchange.

 

 

The guardian says anyone’s soul will do if she doesn’t want to give hers up or he’ll take the next best thing: her name. He can’t take the Momochi name from her so he looks at her first name, Himari.

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What’s in a name?

I’m assuming Himari doesn’t know the kanji (Japanese characters) that spell out her name so she spells it with hiragana like this: ひまり

The guardian can see the kanji for her name and decide to take a kanji from it. Suddenly, the cherry lantern breaks and the guardian takes its light instead as payment. The Hi in her name means “light.”

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Cherry light

The gate is opened and Himari is led to the place she wishes which turns out to be the drawer of thought. The guardian of the gate wishes her farewell and hopes he has some sake the next time they meet which Himari doubts they’ll see each other again.

 

 

The record keeper asks for her name and Himari tells it to her and that she’s looking for Aoi’s past. Himari is led to Aoi’s drawer but before she can do anything she’s warned that only one soul can open one drawer. She’s shown her own drawer which contains all her memories, karma, and who her parents were.

Himari thinks back to what the guardian said about her name, how she doesn’t know what the ma and ri mean. Why her parents chose the name they did and what kind of people they were.

Even so, Himari decides to open Aoi’s drawer anyway. She opens the drawer and a young Aoi comes out and proceeds to tell her about his past.

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Back to the past

Aoi lived in an ordinary house with a dad who was often away at work and sickly mom and seven “siblings.” He can also see ayakashi but is told by his big sis to pretend they don’t exist so he can survive on his own. His mom dies and the siblings disappear and is shocked when his dad tells him he’s an only child.

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The Seven Siblings

Looks like Aoi inherited his ability to see ayakashi from his mother as she could see the children too. Those children were called zashiki warashi, child spirits that bring good fortune to the home they inhabit.

Aoi’s dad marries his secretary who’s a kind woman but it seems like the ayakashi want to ruin the relationship. He stills sees ayakashi which causes his stepmom to wonder if he’s making up stories because he hates her and wants to drive her away.

Realizing the ayakashi show up because of him, he tries to distance himself from everyone. His stepmom becomes pregnant with Akane and the difficulty of the pregnancy makes her anxious. The ayakashi start to influence her and she takes it out on Aoi which explains the bruises Nachi notices in his flashback.

Aoi thinks about Nachi telling him to go to Momochi house but he remembers his stepmom yelling at him about how worried she was when he didn’t come home on time.

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Second thoughts

He rushes back home to apologize to his stepmom (he just calls her “mom” actually) and tell her he’s looking forward to having a new sister. Aoi finds her sleeping at the table and just as he’s about to tell her a voice coming from her stomach tells him he should just disappear.

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Rosemary’s Baby: In the Womb

That part made me mad right there. Stupid ayakashi possessing an unborn baby and then telling Aoi he should disappear? Grrrr. Well, we find out why in the next volume.

Blaming himself for his unborn sister becoming an ayakashi, Aoi runs into the forest to Momochi house which concludes the flashback.

Aoi’s negative karma tries to trap Himari in the drawer, but the record keeper comes to her rescue. Himari notices her body getting younger as the keeper explains that because of his powers, Aoi is destined to have weak ties to his blood relatives. Himari starts to look back as the young Aoi pleads for her to stay with him only for the record keeper to tell her if she does she’ll never get home. More children show up and the keeper is revealed to be Aoi’s big sis and the rest of his siblings help Himari home and tell her to look after Aoi for them.

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Siblings to the rescue!

Himari ends back where she started and after a silent thank you to Aoi’s brothers and sisters rushes to find Aoi.

The Nue is still in the room he’s confined to, not transformed back into Aoi. Himari goes into the room to tell the Nue all she discovered. The Nue teases her a little bit before pulling her closer asking her if she dislikes his ayakashi form. He calls her a bad girl (*giggle*) and says that maybe she’s already entranced by him.

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Bad girl

There’s a spelling error in the book. It says, “Perhaps you’re already entranced be me” instead of “you’re already entranced by me.” Irks me a little but what are you gonna do? *shrugs*

Ise finds a letter addressed to Himari from Akane and opens it, which reads that Aoi is dead.

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Letter from a Thief

A little but a rewind shows Kasha and the Nue after Himari finds Aoi’s past. Kasha says since the Nue won the wager he’ll grant him a wish but the Nue tells him to get out before he can finish the sentence. He remarks how the Nue still hasn’t changed back.

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“Get out”

Present time: Himari is being drawn in by the Nue who says “I should just make you mine.” Himari manages to regain her senses (good job!) and get the Nue back on topic.

 

She notices the hourglass left behind by Kasha and the Nue confesses he knows everything that happened in the drawers of thought since he and Kasha were watching the whole time.

Himari asks if Aoi blames himself for Akane being an ayakashi which his silence confirms. She tells him she visited the Nanamori house where Akane is living as a normal child. The Nue tells her that Akane’s home is not like Momochi house and reminds her of how Hidaka suffered at his house with the kitsune spirits.

The Nue says that humans and ayakashi can’t coexist together. Himari realizes that Aoi’s feelings of guilt are what’s keeping him from accepting his past and changing back. She resolves once more to bring him back to his original form.

Later, Himari heads back to the Nanamori residence after reading Akane’s message with Ise in tow. On the path, they run into a sinister-looking Akane who accuses them of looking for Aoi.

The area starts to become part of the spiritual realm and Akane runs off with Ise in pursuit. Himari hears a scream and rushes to the Nanamori house as Mr. Nanamori comes outside. He tells her Akane is missing and his wife is naturally upset. They go looking for Akane since her dad keeps get lost near the house and can’t make any phone calls.

 

Mr. Nanamori asks why Himari came and when she says she got a letter from Akane asks if she came alone. He says Akane told them Himari was with some boy but he and his wife only saw Himari. He believes Ise took Akane and explains that before they moved to their current home a man came by to visit their old house after Akane was born.

Mr. Nanamori can’t remember the man’s face but knows he was otherworldly. The man cleaned the house of ayakashi and after, the Nanamoris moved to another town. Soon after they discover their former house was hit by lightning and burned down. Thanks to the mysterious man they survived but his parting words disturbed Mr. Nanamori.

As he left the man said he was taking something they had lost. Because of that, Mr. Nanamori and his wife are terrified that man will come back and take something from them again.

 

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Akane missing

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Ominous visitor

Himari asks if he remembers Aoi and Mr. Nanamori is shocked she knows about Aoi. He tells her Aoi is dead.

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Pheew, that was a long one! Sorry about that, but a lot happened in this book. There are two sides in this volume, one about a play on Kabe-don (which is the act of cornering someone by slamming your hand on a wall above them) and a little alternate universe short called “Momochi Private Academy.” Schoolgirl Himari wants to give Valentine’s chocolates to hot teacher Mr. Nue and is snagged in a triangle with sweet classmate, Aoi. Eventually, it’s just a dream Himari is having but totally funny.

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Momochi Academy!

So who’s the mysterious man? My first thought was Kasha but he would’ve collected by now and that was too nice for him to clean house and walk away. So who is it? And what do the Nanamoris mean that Aoi is dead? Do they somehow remember him? All will be revealed next volume!!

 

 

 

Sunday funday, Manga Madness

So, I finally finished (mostly) the books mentioned in Manga Madness and The Box 

I have read the first four volumes of Requiem of Rose King, the fourth volume of the Skip Beat! big edition and Goliath.

I don’t have a review/summary for Scott Westerfeld’s Goliath. I will say I have thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and the last one was a perfect ending for me.

I feel like I’m finally making some progress in my reading list. My manga pile is dwindling and I am that much closer to getting to the novel-type books I have waiting.

Although I did end up adding another box the pile. Curse you, library book sales with your $1 paperbacks and your fill-up-a-bag-and-it’s-$3!! T_T

I might have a problem. o_o

Meh. Oh well.

eBook Finish! Zodiac (Zodiac #1)

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Book 1 in Romina Russell’s Zodiac series is a YA sci-fi featuring-you guessed it!-the zodiac constellations.

Beware the 13th sign

That’s the tagline for this series. In this future universe mankind have settled into twelve houses. These houses are the zodiac, and they’re a system of moons and planets that look like the twelve constellations. The world building based on the zodiac signs was pretty cool and different to me and I liked the mythos that went into this.

So, we have 16-year-old Rhoma Grace from House Cancer who’s a student on one of her planet’s moons as our main character. Her mom left her, her dad, and her brother, and the only thing she ever taught Rho was how to read the stars. One day while having an outdoor (as outdoor as you can get on a moon) concert when her House is attacked. Cancer’s moons are destroyed causing catastrophe on the planet itself and killing the House’s Guardian.

Suddenly, Rho’s world is not only smashed but turned upside down as earlier she kept seeing a vision in the stars. This dark vision points to an old legend about a thirteenth house and its Guardian, Ophiuchus. Rho is then made the new Guardian of her House and while she tries to warn her council of the dangers, they don’t believe her.

After a few encounters with the big baddie himself, Rho sets out to warn the other Houses of danger heading their way. With her is Lodestar Mathias and ambassador Hysan from House Libra which sets up a-you guessed it again!-love triangle. (Telling you right now, Team Hysan! Yes, I’m shipping! Space shipping!)

Uh, anyway.

Needless to say, these other Houses don’t really take her seriously either. An old zodiac boogieman coming to get us? He caused all these calamities? Get real!

The people in this world rely heavily on the “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” philosophy which makes things frustrating for Rho.

Rho has a single-minded purpose of getting the other Houses to believe Ophiuchus is real so they can prepare themselves which prevents any other path to think about. I was left thinking that she wasn’t thinking things through or trying to come up with alternatives if certain things didn’t work out. So you warn these Houses and then what? How are they suppose to protect themselves? Since no one believes you so far, what else could you do in the meantime?

It’s understandable that Rho didn’t think of these things. She’s 16 and is suddenly thrust into the highest position her House has to offer. Everything’s happening too fast and Rho herself says towards the end that she was going at breakneck speed traveling all over the Zodiac. She never got to slow down.

No one really gave her any helpful advice on the journey and the advice she did get from a few fellow Guardians was cryptic and vague. It’s not until after the fact that the meanings sink in.

Rho does try and her perseverance shines through. The other Houses do end up believing her to a point. And I say a point because when they put together an armada to go get Ophiuchus they put her as a figurehead which later doubles as a scapegoat when things end disastrously.

Like adults, the head honchos don’t let her in on any strategy meetings, brush off any concerns she may have, treating her like a child. Okay, little girl, you cried wolf and were right this time. Now stand back and let the adults handle this.

Only they get bitten so to speak. Badly. Then blame it on Rho.

The last few chapters really made me angry for Rho at her treatment. There are hopeful tones at the end though. Rho will stand strong and protect the Zodiac alone or with help.

A good start to a series all-in-all. Romina Russell has a readathon of the current three books going on, all leading up to the release of the fourth and final book.

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Check out Russell on twitter @RominaRussell for discussions and more or zodiacbooks.com for info about the Zodiac world. This was a good series to get into and I’m hoping to finish Wandering Star and Black Moon by the time Thirteen Rising comes out. Summer reading is on!

eBook Finish! Dorothy Must Die

I had bought a book by Danielle Paige that was sitting in my eLibrary for a while. I finally finished Dorothy Must Die last week and I immediately wanted the next one (which I bought on Nook already but didn’t read yet).

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Dorothy Must Die is part of a series so I’m making myself read them in a certain order. There are four books in the series-with the last book, End of Oz coming out just recently-and nine prequel novellas. I already finished the first prequel novella, No Place Like Oz and I want to read two more prequel novellas before I get to the next book, The Wicked Will Rise.

But anywho, if you’re looking to start a new YA series with a dark tone, Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die might be the end of your search!

As the title suggest, this series isn’t the technicolor fairytale one might think when Frank L. Baum’s world comes to mind. Everybody’s favorite witch-slaying farm girl in the silver slippers is the ruby shoe-wearing villain in this piece and it’s up to another girl from Kansas, Amy Gumm to stop her from sucking all the magic from Oz.

Amy’s not exactly your typical heroine. Amy lives with her drunk mother in a trailer park after her father walks out on them. Amy’s the outcast at school and after a fight with her mother, she gets ready to run away with her pet rat, Star only to realize her mom stole the cash she was hiding away. In true Dorothy fashion, a tornado whisks Amy, Star and the trailer to a place that is anything but what the stories said about Oz.

Amy meets some interesting characters, the first being a strange boy named Pete who rescues her from her trailer falling down a ravine and a punk-styled Munchkin who wants nothing to do with her. Through some unfortunate events, Amy is taken to the Emerald City to the “Princess of Oz” Dorothy.

Again, this is not the humble farm girl who came to Oz the first time. After the events in No Place Like Oz Dorothy has become a tyrant, taking all the magic from Oz while she lives in splendor in the the Emerald City. She kills on a whim and for the slightest infractions, and not only that but acts like a spoiled child.

And she does not like this other girl from Kansas coming in and taking away what she thinks makes her special. Amy is locked up then rescued later on by the Order of the Wicked, a group of wicked and good witches determined to put an end to Dorothy and her posse of corrupt friends.

Amy is forced to make an alliance with Mombi, Wicked Witch of the North, to join the Order and learn fighting and magic to kill Dorothy. The Witches teach Amy magic while Nox, a young man taken in by the Order, teaches her fighting. And yes, there is a love connection in the works. This wouldn’t be YA without it. Not that I’m complaining.

As Amy learns from the Order there are a lot of warnings and parallels drawn between her and Dorothy. They’re the girls from Kansas, outsiders who came from foreign worlds to make change in Oz. Whereas Dorothy helped save Oz once, she came back and is destroying the world. There’s a lot of speculation that Amy can save Oz from Dorothy but a lot of worry she could turn out just like her.

It’s very interesting, the similarities and differences between the two. The only similarities I can really see between the two is they are both from Kansas and have humble origins.

Dorothy grew up an orphan on a small farm under the loving care of her aunt and uncle. Even though she had no parents and did not live an extravagant life, she was still well-loved, first by her aunt and uncle, then by her friends in Oz. But her need to be more, to be loved and worshiped after her witch-slaying fame corrupted her in the end.

Amy grew up with a single mother who descended into alcoholism despite Amy’s attempts to help her. She’s trailer trash who’s picked on by the popular girl. She has no friends except for a pet rat. A rat, not a cute little dog like Toto. I like Star though, and she ends up being quite helpful and a source of some comfort to Amy during her mission in the castle. Amy is alone, feels unwanted by her mom, and angry. In this dark and crumbling Oz, her upbringing helps her handle what comes her way.

Amy is tasked with an undercover mission with one goal: kill Dorothy. Even with vague help from the mysterious gardener, Pete and the Wizard himself, her mission ends in failure. Well, not complete failure. She does gain some new information that could lead her a couple steps closer to killing Dorothy and saving Oz.

This is definitely a darker retelling of Oz where the good is wicked, the wicked is good, and one pink-haired girl is all that stands between one gingham-dressed princess wannabe and the destruction of an entire world.

 

eBook Finish! The Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 7

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Last time, we (or should I just say “I”?) were left with this:

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Who is Natchi?? How does he know Aoi?? What does he want??? What about the Kagome Park ghost???!!

Anyway.

We start off with Himari and Hayato using an old map from Mr. Natchi to find where the Nanamori (Aoi’s family) home was. When they do find it, there’s nothing but an empty lot. As they turn to head back, Himari spots a figure that matches the ghost’s description. The next day at school Himari’s classmates decide to they should all go investigate!

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At home, Aoi finds Himari’s research notebook she left behind (probably the result of an ayakashi prank). A piece of paper falls out that reads Kagome Park. Aoi reads it and goes quiet prompting Yukari to ask if he’s alright. Aoi says he’s fine and Yukari tells him that while originally believing Aoi’s slump to be thr result of guilty feelings over rejecting Himari, maybe it’s something more than that. Yukari asks if Aoi “has lost something precious to [him].”

At Kagome Park Himari and her classmates are looking around the old park when the Kagome Park ghost appears! He gives the students quite a scare until one of Himari’s friends, Rui lands a karate chop on the true culprit, Senoo. It turns out he put on the costume to scare people and get them to talk about any memories they had of the ghost.

Everyone’s relieved it was just a prank but when Himari asks where Senoo got the cape he replies that he doesn’t remember.

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Hayato has some vague memories of seeing the Kagome Park ghost. He’s sure he saw him but if he did, and didn’t disappear as the story goes, then Hayato suggests that maybe the ghost isn’t a ghost. Maybe it was someone in disguise like Senoo.

Now that the ghost has been unmasked everyone goes home. Hayato offers to walk Himari home but she says she’s fine. Momochi House is hard to find but the path Himari takes goes there directly. She’s just outside the gate when the ghost appears behind Himari; he mentions a child that was invited into Momochi House. Aoi and the others arrive but Himari tells them not to attack; the ghost is possessing Senoo!

The Nue and Shikigami pull Himari and Senoo inside and Senoo is purified. The ghost lets him go and manifests a human form. It seems delighted that it was given entry into Momochi house and asks if Aoi had grown up. Then it suddenly disappears into a cloud of feathers.

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Everyone’s on the lookout for the ghost as it disappeared on the property. Aoi is having trouble remembering his past, where before, he thought he was fine forgetting everything and eventually becoming an ayakashi. He asks Yukari what it felt like going from ayakashi to human. Yukari tells him he started feeling a distance from everything, even emotions like love. Has Aoi lost precious to him? And is he okay with losing it?

While standing on the porch, a shadow catches his eye but it’s only Himari who just put Tamamo back to sleep after a nightmare. Aoi playfully asks if she’ll put him back to bed too, flustering her. They talk about the ghost where Himari mentions how Hayato saw it and maybe Aoi did too. But he can’t remember and he never thought it would be so painful not to.

He suddenly asks Himari if he can kiss her. Ooh! Flustered, she asks him why to which he simply answers that he wants to. Himari reminds him that he doesn’t see her that way so no, he can’t kiss her. Aoi seems a little flustered himself, saying, “I know I said that but…” It’s obvious he likes her the same way.

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The two are interrupted when one of the little ayakashi suddenly gets bigger and starts a rampage. Zushi comes up behind Aoi before he can turn into the Nue. He’s being possessed by the ghost and tells Aoi to remember. Aoi recognizes the voice speaking through Zushi and it tells him the more he remembers, the stronger their bond will become.

Yukari and Ise come to the rescue but suddenly they can’t move. Aoi realizes this is not the work of an ayakashi. The ghost started to take on a more human shape instead of just a shadow figure. As it stands before Aoi he says, “I know you” to which the ghost replies “You finally remembered me.” It’s Natchi’s face!!

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Himari recognizes her teacher as the gates to Momochi house open and in walks Natchi.

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Walking in like a boss

It turns out, Natchi used to come to Kagome park when Aoi was little. He saw spirits too and would talk to Aoi about them. No one believed Aoi when he said he saw spirits. Same with Nachi. When Nachi was a little boy he was taken to a temple of monks so he could be rid of evil thoughts. Standing under waterfalls and reciting sutras did nothing to keep him from seeing ayakashi. Not wanting to be controlled by these evil spirits Nachi sought to turn the tables. He sought power.

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Soon he hears about Momochi house and the Omamori-sama and about a child who has seen the house. He goes to Kagome park looking for a child to send to Momochi house where he eventually encounters Aoi.

Aoi has had a rough time too, seeing ayakashi, and it’s implied he’s being abused when Nachi notices bruises. Of course, this doesn’t deter him from sending Aoi to Momochi house by telling him his family would be happier if he just disappeared.

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He tells him of a house he could hide in and that he’ll come get Aoi after a while. He gives him a “spell” that will bind them together. So it was Nachi who was behind all those paper seals and cursing Ryujin.

So Nachi’s the one who sent Aoi to be trapped in Momochi house all those years ago. He’s come back now that Aoi’s powers have grown. Nachi has captured and bound other ayakashi to him to control as shikigami and they look like tengu (bird-like spirits). Now Nachi wants the power of Momochi house and Aoi’s as the Omamori-sama.

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Nachi tells Aoi that they are same, both ostracized by the human realm for having spiritual powers. He manages to bind Aoi and tries to start the process to turn him into a shikigami. When Aoi resists, Nachi brings Himari over and uses kotodama (words that have spiritual power) to control her against her will.

Nachi tells Himari to blindfold Aoi as it symbolizes his control over his shikigami. Himari tries to resist but Nachi proves more powerful. Yukari realizes the kotodama as he can actually see the word spell and stabs his eardrum, breaking the spell that held him immobile. Ise manages to break free as well.

Yukari goes to help Aoi but he tells him to bring him something. He doesn’t say what it is as he’s cut off by one of the shikigami attacking. Nonetheless, Yukari must realize what it is because he races back inside the house to go get it. Meanwhile, Himari is still under Nachi’s control and draws closer with the blindfold!

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For a brief second, Aoi seems to accept that he’ll lose himself to Himari. But when he sees her crying he decides to fight back. Himari is his light and he tells her he’s sorry right before he lifts his head and kisses her!

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Fangirl squeal

This definitely serves to snap her out of the kotodama spell as she yells at him “no kissing!!” Instead of steam coming out of her ears, it’s feathers!

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Yukari comes back with the clothes Aoi had on when he first entered Momochi house. Aoi confronts Nachi with the seal he had been given that prevented Aoi from remembering his past. He tells Nachi that he was lonely just like Aoi was.

Even Aoi wanted to forget his troubles he realizes that he mustn’t run from his pain and tells Nachi that he won’t be bound by him and tears up the seal. He resolves to be stronger in order to truly protect Himari and transform into the Nue.

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Nachi and the Nue battle it out but the Nue is far too strong for Nachi to try to control. He forces Nachi out of the gate and property. Zushi and the little ayakashi go back to normal and Himari goes to stand beside the Nue.

She can’t tell what he’s thinking and is trying to hold back her own tears. The Nue asks her if she’s angry about the kiss. Himari stutters out that it was just so he could snap her out of the kotodama spell, because he didn’t have a choice. He asks Himari what if it was because he just wanted to? Himari storms away, embarrassed.

Outside, Nachi can’t remember where he was or what he was doing. He stumbles his way through the forest, unable to call his shikigami crows as Kasha monologues from a distance.

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Yukari comes towards the Nue with a robe telling him he should change back and rest while Himari says she’ll look away. The Nue announces that he can no longer change back!

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Aoi’s past is slowly being delved into. What’s the reason for this inability to change back? Next time in volume 8! (What an announcer’s voice -__-;)