Waiting on Wednesday: “Tokyo Heist” by Diana Renn

Waiting on Wednesday is a feature showcasing books that we just can’t wait for, hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine.

   Title: Tokyo Heist (This link is to Amazon; the book cover link is to Goodreads :D)

    Author: Diana Renn

   Expected Publication Date: June 14th, 2012

    Summary from Goodreads:

    Sixteen-year-old Violet loves reading manga and wearing scarves made from   kimono fabric, so she’s thrilled that her father’s new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns into a dangerous treasure hunt.

Her father’s client, the wealthy Yamada family, is the victim of a high-profile art robbery. Someone has stolen van Gogh sketches from the Yamadas’ Seattle mansion, and is holding them hostage until the Yamadas can produce the corresponding van Gogh painting.

The problem is that nobody knows where this painting is hidden, and until they find it, all of their lives are in danger. Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery deepens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust.

But she knows one thing: she has to find the painting and the criminals—before it’s too late.

Why I’m Waiting: I love thrillers and mysteries, and while this one looks like it has some potential to be kinda cheesy, it also looks like it has the potential to be face-meltingly awesome. I also love that it’s going to be set in both Japan and Seattle. :3 And Violet sounds like a badass heroine after my own heart.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below or link me back to your own WoW post and let me know!

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On Very Late Thank-Yous and Blogs You Should Certainly Pay a Visit

So, this weekend was a crazy weekend tacked onto the end of a crazy week for me. There are most certainly bucketloads of crazy in my life right now, and when people start dumping crazy on me, I forget about things like blogging. Usually for no more than 24 to 72 hours, but still.

Nevertheless, I’d like to extend my very late thanks to Alexandra Corinth, who presented me with the Liebster Award on February 24th! As a new blogger, I really do appreciate the kindnesses you have shown me!

All right! According to the rules, this award is aimed at new-ish sites with less than 200 followers who deserve to be noticed. Coming right up! 😀

The Liebster Blog Award Rules:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog. (Check!)

2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. (Check!)

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog. (Check!)

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Done and done!)

5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog. (Well, I would say check but I know I’m not going to do this until I’ve already published this post :D)

The five bloggers I wish to extend this award to are:

YA Yeah Yeah: Awesome YA lit blog run by Jim, who is a very pleasant gentleman and an awesome reviewer 😀

A Rogue Librarian’s Reading List: I’m actually not sure how many followers Rogue has– apologies in advance, Rogue, if I’ve underestimated!– but she was one of the first people I followed when I first started on WordPress, and she has awesome taste in comics/manga as well as books.

The Readventurer: I particularly love Tatiana’s reviews and the Books Vs. Movies feature 😀

Badass Book Reviews: Awesome name, great reviews– what’s not to love?

My Life is a Notebook: Gretchen is both an incredible writer and an insightful reviewer with great taste in YA fantasy/paranormal 😀

Book Review: “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls #1)

Title: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Available In: Hardcover (Library Binding), Paperback, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle, Audiobook.

Maturity Level: 13 +. Some kissing and light violence, but overall very clean.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy fast-paced, light-hearted stories and/or if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon (the writing style seems very much influenced by his work, and there are plenty of Buffy references).

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re looking for a serious spy novel ala John LeCarre.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Cameron Morgan is not your average private-school girl. Then again, Gallagher Academy is not your average private school—it’s a spy school, with a curriculum designed to turn out some of the best-trained surveillance agents in the world. So when she meets the incredibly normal Josh, she’s not quite sure how to proceed. Luckily, she has a team of very good friends there to help her sift through his trash, hack his computer, and arrange strategic meetings away from prying eyes. And along the way, Cammie just might learn something about love — and the importance of being true to oneself.

Overall, I thought this book was really fun. It’s a bit like Nikita meets Harry Potter meets Buffy. There are some very good messages twined up in the lighthearted narrative as well, making this a book that I’d recommend to any teenage girl (or, for that matter, any girl ever). The spy element was nicely handled, and I loved reading the descriptions of a typical day at a “spy school”. Throw in a whole load of Buffy references, and I am a very happy reader. It was also a wicked quick read, especially the last hundred pages or so—the sort of book you could finish in an afternoon if you had no interruptions. I’m looking forward to the next book—which, according to PaperBackSwap, is headed my way as of this morning—and I’ll also definitely be checking out Heist Society when I finish with the Gallagher Girls series.

Pros

  • Spy girls. Spy girls are always a plus.
  • Gallagher Academy is kind of like Harry Potter for spy girls. AWESOME~
  • Cammie’s mom. She’s awesome, and I love that her and Cammie have a very close relationship, which is not often seen in YA.
  • Bex, Liz, and Macey. They’re smart, sassy, and they’re great friends. What’s not to love?
  • CoveOps. I would totally take this class.
  • Short chapters make for a fast-paced read.
  • I really, really love the overall message, which is basically to stay true to who you are when you’re in a relationship, not true to what your partner might want you to be. Also, don’t ditch your friends. They’ll be around long after your BF has taken off.

Cons

  • Some of the “mean girls” in this book are pretty flat and stereotypical.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pages 87-90, when Mr. Solomon makes his point about what failure in a CovertOps mission would cost you. Very tense, very dramatic.
  • Josh driving a forklift through the wall on page 271.

Favorite Line (s): “Our lies come complete with Social Security numbers and fake IDS, and our truths cut like Spanish steel.”~pg 221 of Ally Carter’s I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars.

Final Grade: A. Will probably reread, will definitely read next book in series.

Top Ten Books I Would Save if Disaster Struck

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish.)

I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to blog this morning– I’m on a rather tight schedule for today and am also suffering from the Head Cold of Doom– but when I saw this TTT topic, I couldn’t resist jotting my list down really quick. 🙂

And the books are…

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book is a classic for me, and definitely something I’d want to be reading if there was a disaster 😀
  2. Wild Magicby Tamora Pierce. Ideally, I’d be able to save all my Pierce books, but if I had to pick just one, it would be this one.
  3. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. I love the humor in this book, and the romance, and just… pretty much everything about it.
  4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Best steampunk I’ve read in a while.
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoneby JK Rowling. Again, I’d prefer to save all of them, but this particular copy has sentimental value.
  6. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I just love this book too much– from the moment Nick Ryves popped his head and his sword out from under the kitchen sink, I was hooked.
  7. Drink Slay Loveby Sarah Beth Durst. Best vampire book EVER.
  8. White Cat by Holly Black. This copy also has sentimental value– it has been signed and doodled in by Black herself!
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Again, signed copy. Also, the most emotionally wrenching book I’ve ever read.
  10. My audiobook copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Because awesome story + Neil Gaiman’s voice= unforgettable.

What books are in  your top ten? Feel free to link me to your post or let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: “Farsighted” by Emlyn Chand (Farsighted #1)

Title: Farsighted (Click on this link or the book cover to add it to your Goodreads!)

Author: Emlyn Chand (You can follow her on Twitter, too!)

Available In: eBook for KindlePaperback.

Maturity Level: Recommended for 13+. Some gore, violence, and kissing, but little to no sexual content.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I’ve been reading a lot of self-pubs on my Kindle app recently, and I have to say that so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the selections that I’ve made. Sure, there were a couple of duds, books that I could only stand about a chapter of— the stereotypical “bad” self-pubs, complete with bad formatting, an apparent lack of any sort of editor, and a definite lack of any real sales potential.

Then, there are books like Angelfall and Farsighted—books that you could totally see showing up on a bookstore shelf and actually being better than 75% of their genre. These are books that have been self-published because that is part of the author’s artistic vision (see this post by  Chand) rather than being self-pubbed because there is absolutely NO CHANCE of a major press EVER accepting them. The latter is what self publishing has become (and also, what people tend to think when they sit down to read an indie); the former is what self-publishing was to begin with and what it should continue to be.

That said, on with the review!

Alex Kosmitoras is an abnormal guy in a depressingly normal situation: his parents are struggling financially, and there’s a bully who seems to have it out for him no matter what. On top of that, he’s blind—and, apparently, able to “see” the future. Simmi is the new girl from India, who is not only the friendliest, most accepting person Alex has ever met, but also has powers of her own. Alex is starting to think that this is actually going to be okay—that he has a shot of being friends with Simmi (and maybe more)—when he starts having visions of Simmi dying in various terrible ways and vows to stop it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It paints a lovely tableau of multiculturalism against a small-town background; as someone who lives in a truly tiny town, I can appreciate this. Chand also manages to twine the paranormal element neatly into Alex’s everyday issues with school, parents, etc while drawing on mythological elements that made the 13-year-old-me-who-read-Edith-Wharton’s-Mythology-obsessively-for-about-a-year incredibly happy. There were points where the pacing seemed a little slow, but there were also times when I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s definitely a book that I’d recommend to people who are tired of the vampire/werewolves/angels that tend to overpopulate YA paranormals.

 

Pros

  • Alex’s POV. I have a weakness for blind protagonists, especially those that are still major badasses. Which Alex definitely is.
  • Simmi. I kind of fell a bit in love with her right alongside Alex, which made her a wonderful romantic lead for the book.
  • Shapri. I might have fallen in love with Simmi, but I would definitely be more like Shapri. I liked how Chand handled her reluctance to admit to her gifts, and I loved that she was not “the bad guy” in Simmi and Alex’s relationship just because she had a bit of a crush on Alex. Nice.
  • The runes and how they connect to the story. I’m actually incredibly interested in runes/tarot, so I loved reading the description of each rune and then figuring out how it connected to the chapter I was reading.
  • Caffeine-assisted visions! I love explorations of how drugs/chemicals would affect theoretical psychic powers.
  • The multicultural viewpoint. ❤

Cons

  • Some of the transitions were a little choppy.
  • Occasionally, Alex fails to take action that moves the plot along and waits for other people to move it along instead. It seems just a little OOC, since he spends the majority of the book being a badass, but it wasn’t enough to disrupt the book entirely, so it’s all good.

Star Rating on Goodreads/Final Grade: 3.75 stars, rounded up for GR. A-. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.15 “Repo Man”

This week’s SPN episode was definitely a throwback to the old days, complete with season 4 flashbacks and a clever integration of part of season 4’s plot. However, it was a difficult episode to figure out; I’m not sure what, exactly, they were trying to achieve.

The basic summary is this: way back when they were hunting down Lilith, Sam and Dean got a hold of one of her lieutenants– Jeffrey’s demon– and tortured him in order to obtain information. They dumped the injured, recently possessed Jeffrey at a hospital and took off. Now, years later, Jeffrey’s demon is back and the boys are after him. They hunt Jeffrey down and discover that things between the possessor and the possessed might not have been quite what they thought. Meanwhile, Sam’s hallucinations are growing worse and worse, despite his various coping mechanisms…

The story itself was good. I thought the writing was solid and the acting ability showcased by Padalecki in particular was of a higher quality than we’ve seen in the past few episodes. They seemed to be trying to draw connections between both of the Winchester boy’s “situations” and Jeffrey’s psychotically codependent relationship with his demon: granted, Sam/Lucifer fits this mold better than Dean/Cas, but when Jeffrey was going on about being a drunk and wanting to die, it definitely paralleled Dean’s depression, which was definitely brought on – if not entirely caused- by Cas’ death. I think that if they really wanted this to work, they could have taken it a step further, but then again, this episode was all about setup, rather than being a pure MoTW episode, so maybe we’ll see a more thorough exploration of the boys’ headspace in the upcoming episodes.

Pros

  • Lucifer. I love Mark Pellegrino’s take on Satan- always have, always will- and he brought his trademark malicious sass to this episode and brightened up a few scenes that would otherwise have been pretty dull. And I LOVED the way that Luci helped Sam on the case when Dean was in trouble.
  • They tied their plot neatly back to season 4, which I really liked.

Cons

  • I have one huge Con with this episode, and with the showrunners in general: Wicca is a religion. Witches are practitioners of magic. They are not one and the same.

Final Rating: B+.

Coming Up Next: I am so, so excited for this episode. Or these episodes, I guess, since this looks like it’s probably a teaser for both 7.16 and 7.17. Now, if you’ll excuse my rudeness, I need to analyze a still from this promo in order to prove a point of mine.

Left: the shoulder of Dean’s jacket. Right: A woman with dark brunette, wavy hair. So we have Dean and Meg here. Now, from the buzz that’s been going around, a lot of people have been assuming that Cas is coming back as an amnesiac. However, this look, right here? This is not the look of someone who does not remember what he’s done. This is the look of someone who remembers all too well what has happened. He can’t even meet Dean’s eyes, and I’m glad to see it, because while I do love our nerdy little angel, I really wanted him to learn something from his experience, which he can’t do if he can’t remember it.

It’s also time for Dean to learn a little bit about forgiveness. And what a perfect opportunity!

Favorite Anime and TV Pairings (of All Time and In No Particular Order)

So, this is in the same vein as my previous post about my favorite book pairings of all time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make a vid this time– cutting movie clips together in my video editor takes forever and an age, and I’ve been working/going to kickboxing/writing all week. My spare time has been devoted to finishing some of the books in my currently-reading stack, and answering correspondence, which really didn’t leave me six hours to edit a vid. I might still do one in the future, depending on how much time I have/what clips I can get my hands on.

That aside, I did gather some pretty pictures for you all, so I’ll just go right ahead with my list. 😀

Nate and Sophie, Leverage

The odd thing is, I don’t even like Nate on his own. I think he’s a whiny, manipulative drunk with power and control issues. However, he and Sophie have one of the most adorable romances currently running on TV, and Sophie brings out qualities in Nate that make him almost likable.

Dean and Castiel, Supernatural

Thing #1: Yes, that is a manip. Good one, no? Thing #2: Yes, I know, guys. Dean’s straight, Cas is asexual, and this pairing is NOT CANON. However, they did make it to the final round of eOnline’s TV Top Couples Tournament, and the writers/directors tend to toss out terms such as “long distance marriage”, “war widow”, and even the incredibly unsubtle and infamous “one in the trenchcoat” comment from season 6. So yeah. It basically boils down to that if Castiel had appeared in season 4 looking like this:

…. Dean would have been on that in three seconds flat, and all of the questionable UST that they already have would have become, well, resolved sexual tension.

(Needless to mention we might have had a girl on SPN who could survive sleeping with one of the bros.)

Alec Hardison and Parker, Leverage

There is one word that is perfectly apt to describe this pairing: cute. Sweet might also be applicable. Just watch this clip and let me know if your heart doesn’t melt.

Shunsui and Nanao, Bleach

These two were always my favorite couple/pairing/enemies from Bleach. There’s not really much overt romance going on between these two, but under all of the fighting and bickering there is a.) a man who cares for Nanao truly and deeply and b.) a girl who is very, very loyal and capable.

Ten and Rose, Doctor Who

They were fun. They had undeniable chemistry that Eccleston and Piper simply didn’t. And I do believe this is the closest that we have ever gotten– aside from perhaps Sarah Jane– to the Doctor having a canon romance.

Which can really be summarized in the following quote: “If I believe in one thing, just one thing, I believe in her.”

Amy Williams/Pond and Rory Pond/Williams, Doctor Who

Just when I thought DW was done giving us tragic and beautiful romances, they threw this one at me. These two love one another in ways that I was starting to think weren’t possible, and they’re also wonderfully fun together. And FYI? I would totally watch this show if it were real. 🙂

River Song and Eleven, Doctor Who

Way too much Doctor Who, I know. But I felt that this one needed mentioning. 🙂 I really do hope to see River back next season.

Buffy and Spike, BtVS

Despite the borderline abusive turn of their relationship later in the series, I identify Buffy and Spike as a couple by this moment, when Buffy is sitting on the steps angsting and the previously highly antagonistic Spike offers her a moment of absolute tenderness that harkens back to the bad, dorky poet he was before he was turned. Plus, they have more sexual chemistry than Buffy and Angel ever did.

 

Willow and Tara, BtVS

Willow and Tara, despite their difficulties, brought out the best in one another. I was profoundly sad when Tara died, because I feel like Tara was The One and The Only for Willow. Willow and Kennedy, Willow and that werewolf guy who’s name I can never remember, Willow and Xander– none of them had the same quality as Willow and Tara, two girls who loved one another so much that they were able to work past their issues with addiction and low self-esteem, and who, in the end, were willing to die and/or kill for one another.

ETA: For some reason, the picture I had for this pair completely disappeared at some point today while I was out running errands. So here’s a new one 🙂

So, who is YOUR favorite TV/Anime couple? Let me know in the comments!

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