Book Review: “Katana” by Cole Gibsen

This cover is badass, despite her completely incorrect and impractical grip on those swords.

Title: Katana (Click the cover to add it to your Goodreads!)

Author: Cole Gibsen

Available In: Paperback, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: 16+. Some racy content, violence, vaguely referenced twincest.

You May Like This Book if: you like anime/manga series such as Bleach, Naruto, Ouran High School Host Club, and Rurouni Kenshin; if you were/are a fan of Buffy; if you enjoy reincarnation stories; if you favor action over plot/characters.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t read YA; you don’t like slightly dim main characters; you have a problem with reincarnation plots.

Rileigh Martin didn’t want to start hearing voices in her head. She certainly didn’t want those voices to tell her how to fight. And she MOST CERTAINLY did NOT want a long-dead samurai chick controlling her body. Finding out that she is the reincarnation of said samurai chick? RIGHT OUT.

She doesn’t really mind being able to defend herself from skeeveballs, though. And even though she struggles against it, she can’t really bring herself to mind too much when her new samurai mentor turns out to be Kim Gimhae, hot martial arts instructor… even though the depth of her feelings for him frightens her because they just might not be hers.

I have a feeling that I’m going to catch a lot of flak if I try to argue that this book is great YA literature. In many ways, it reads like a paperback romance novel. Many of the plot points are predictable, and the love triangle is downright laughable and it is very evident early on what is happening. Rileigh’s voice is a little stilted at times—Gibsen just doesn’t have the same easygoing style as, say, Kiersten White’s Evie from Paranormalcy—and the prose is touch-and-go in many places.

And to be honest, I did spend the first fifty pages rolling my eyes at Rileigh because she’s kind of dumb. She’s feisty, for sure, but she just doesn’t have the brain-power to back it up until she really starts to struggle with her dual identity as Rileigh-Senshi. In many ways, this book reminded me of Buffy, and this was one of the not-so-good ways that it did.

But, guys? I just can’t bring myself to hate this book.

Because I usually hate reincarnation stories, but I LOVED this one. The way in which this particular plot element was handled was pretty close to genius. Furthermore, this book was just fun. I really loved the flashback sequences, and applaud Gibsen’s bravery in the whole Michelle/Braden plotline, which is still pretty taboo here and was handled with taste and dignity. Kim makes a good romantic lead, and Quentin a good sidekick (despite his over-the-top and overly stereotypical behavior—in that way, he reminded me a lot of Dante from Illuminate).

(Also, for the record, Rileigh does take a Level in Badass by the end, so all that whining that she does in earlier parts of the book does pay off.)

Overall, I found this book quite amusing, and I’d love to see what Gibsen does next—I have a feeling that she’s one of those writers who will improve with time.

Pros

  • Senshi. I wasn’t really a fan of Rileigh, but Senshi was a badass.
  • The flashbacks were nicely handled.
  • Kim ❤
  • Michelle/Braden. I liked the slightly twincest-y twist on the soulmates concept. Kudos to Gibsen for being brave enough to incorporate this element.
  • Drew and Kim’s bromance :3

Cons

  • Quentin is overly stereotypical, ala Dante from Illuminate.
  • Rileigh is…. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  • The love triangle was pretty clichéd. I would have been just as happy if it was just Kim(Yoshido)/Rileigh(Senshi).

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pg 125-127. Senshi kills things with her “ki” or “spiritual pressure”. It’s totally clichéd but I love it.
  • Pg 209-214. I really liked the deft, tasteful way that the whole Michelle/Braden thing was handled.
  • Pg 251. Love, love, LOVE this scene. So hot. ❤

Favorite Line (s):

  • “You better leave a tip. 30% should keep the Nair out.”~ pg 144
  • “I couldn’t have been more surprised if the President of the United States walked into the café and did his own personal rendition of Lord of the Dance.”~ pg 281

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars, rounded up for fun factor. :3

Fun Factor (1 being blegh, 10 being ROFLMAO): 8

Final Grade:  B. Amusing enough to make up for its flaws.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Check ’em out! 😉

There’s something you should probably know about me before you start reading this post.

I LOVE characters (which is probably a good thing for my writer-brain), and I get attached to them in ways that are probably unhealthy. I weep for them, I laugh with them, and I mourn them when they’re gone. Don’t get me wrong– I love “real people” too. I just have a fangirl problem.

So be ready. There will be MASSIVE fangirling ahead. MASSIVE. (Also, it’s a darn good thing this one is limited to books/graphic novels– I have half an hour to jot out this post and if I had TV/movie characters in there as well, it might literally take me all day. :P)

1. Crowley (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Yeah, Crowley gets top billing here. Badass Angel-Who-Sauntered-Vaguely-Downward who has a weakness for good food and classic British cars? Me likey.

 

 

2. Aziraphale (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Annnd I couldn’t mention Crowley without Aziraphale, now, could I? I appreciate his book obsession, and also the strange balance of utterly selfish and pervasively GOOD that Gaiman and Pratchett have achieved within his character.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Remus Lupin (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series)

I try not to play favorites with HP, since I love all the HP characters, but Lupin has always been and will always be a character that I really appreciate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Katniss Everdeen (Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games)

Katniss is a badass with a heart of gold. ‘Nough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Daine Sarrasri (Tamora Pierce, The Tortallbooks)

Daine was always a girl after my own heart, and her character progression throughout this series is FANTASTIC.

 

6. Numair Salmalin (Tamora Pierce, The Tortall books)

Part of what drew me to Numair is that he is a TOTAL DORK…. but he’s also a badass who could kill you with his pinky finger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Jem Carstairs (Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel)

Plays violin. Kicks demon ass despite his physical limitations. Kind, generous, and loving. Yeah, Jem is my favorite.

8.  Death (Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

Doesn’t look like this. Also, BEST NARRATOR EVER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Anna Korlov (Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood)

I just love her so much, both as a vengeful ghost and as the girl Cas falls for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Juushiro Ukitake (Tite Kubo, Bleach)

I’m cheating a little, because he is actually from an anime/manga, but whatever. At first, I kind of hated him because to me he broke the flow of the whole Soul Society arc, but he grew on me as time went on. What can I say? He became one of my all-time favs. Funny how that turns out.

 

 

 

 

What are your Top Ten characters? Let me know in the comments or link me back to your own TTT post! 😀

Clip from the “Cinder” audiobook!

Hey, guys! This is just a quick PSA to inform you all that Macmillan Audio has kindly allowed me to post an excerpt of theCinderaudiobook, read by the excellent Rebecca Soler! Give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, you can purchase it directly from Macmillan Audio or through Amazon/Audible/etc.

Cinder excerpt is here under the cut! 😀

My 4-star review of Cinder is here.

 

Book Review: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I have to say, this cover is definitely one of my faves of 2012. Love the juxtaposition of the red shoe and the cyborg leg. Another plus? My mom actually picked this one up for me BASED on the cover. Said it looked like "something you'd like". So congrats, cover people. You did a good job. 🙂

ETA: Macmillan Audio has kindly allowed me to post an excerpt from the Cinder audiobook to this blog! The link is here.

Title: Cinder (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Audiobook. (If you just want to try out chapters 1-5, you can get those FREE for your Kindle/Nook here and here.)

Maturity Level: YA. Some disturbing imagery and mild language, along with the usual sci-fi trappings.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy science fiction, Fullmetal Alchemist (there are definitely a few shoutouts in here), and fairy tales.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you expect it to closely follow the format of the original fairy tale.

Linh Cinder lives in a pretty bleak world. As a cyborg in the predominantly human New Beijing, she is shunned and hated. A deadly disease is sweeping the land, wiping people out in droves, and Earth is on the brink of war with the ruthless, extremely powerful Lunars. Cinder’s only saving grace is her skill as a mechanic, and when she is contracted by the crown prince Kai himself, she falls into a terrifying political melee—and possibly, in love with the young prince.

My biggest issue with this book is that the balance between the fairy tale and the sci-fi aspect is kind of off. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi—but I went into this expecting a fairy-tale retelling with sci-fi elements, as opposed to a sci-fi with fairy tale elements. Also, the world-building could use some work. I counted at least three or four different cultures that Meyer seemed to be trying to meld into the unifying society of New Beijing, but for some reason they just kind of clashed.

Wow, reading that last paragraph, you would think I really didn’t like this book. The thing is, I really DID like it for many reasons: the plague aspect was handled really well, I really liked Cinder as an MC, etc, etc. The storytelling definitely has a cinematic edge to it—I would not be surprised to see this one made into a movie in the next five years. However, the issues I outlined above did seriously detract from the story, merely because I found them jarring and somewhat annoying.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid sci-fi book, though it did have some issues. I was a little nervous when I discovered that this is meant to be the first in a quartet— I thought that minus the cliffie ending it could have easily stood just fine on its own—but I will definitely pick up Scarlet when it hits shelves in 2013. J

Pros

  • The plague, obviously modeled off of the sweep of the Black Death through Europe. Very well done.
  • Cinder. I thought she was a badass, and who doesn’t love a cyborg?
  • Prince Kai
  • Dr. Erland as the fairy godmother.

Cons

  • The Lunars are weak conceptually.
  • Occasional unnecessary over-description.
  • I’m not sure if this should be a quartet.
  • Melding of cultures in New Beijing is kind of awkward and heavy-handed.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • pg 349-onward. Love this as a “ball scene”.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars, rounded up for GR.

Final Grade:  B. Nice read, but had some issues that I simply couldn’t ignore.

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!