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.

Book Review: “Illuminate” by Aimee Agresti (Gilded Wings #1)

One thing I can say in favor of this book-- the cover is beautiful.

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

Author: Aimee Agresti

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

Maturity Level: YA. Gore, violence, sexuality, but no language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy slow-moving and slow-developing plots; you have a strong base in Judeo-Christian angel/demon mythology; you’re a fan of Twilight, Hush Hush, or Evernight.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re looking for something fast-paced; you enjoy fresher takes on angel/demon mythology such as Angelfall; you don’t like “angel books”.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS.

Let me start off by saying that I really did want to love this book. It has a lovely cover (that, as many people have pointed out) is actually relevant to an event that takes place in the book. The main character, Haven, is a smart honors student with a bright future ahead of her and a mysterious past. It should have been wonderful, but unfortunately, it came off as rather flat instead.

Part of the problem with this book is that NOTHING HAPPENS. Literally. The majority of the first half is taken up with photography and sleep on Haven’s part, along with a rather creepy romantic relationship that she develops with her boss. I found myself nodding off at times— and I’m not the girl who falls asleep reading. The plot is so vague that had I not gone into this knowing that it was an angel book, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the angel/demon overtones.

Which brings me to another issue: the mythology. It’s not a particularly inspired take on angel/demon mythos. The angels in this book represent Ultimate Good and behave as such—when they’re not being overly emotional, whiny teens or invisibly writing in notebooks. As a mildly agnostic atheist who has read pretty extensively about religions all around the world, I actually found this portrayal to be startlingly inaccurate, given that the A’s are, in fact, badass soldiers of God who have been known to level entire civilizations before in the pursuit of their goal. I’m not poking at anyone’s belief systems here, but to me, that’s a complicated moral conundrum, and I like it when my angels are aware of that (Raffe from Angelfall is a pretty good example) and either choose to leave/reform that society (I’m thinking season 6!revolutionary!Castiel of Supernatural) or make their peace with it and go on (to some extent, Raffe, although he is a self-professed agnostic). I do not like it when they are the only good guys, and I dislike whiny emo teenagers in general, so that’s two strikes against this book. Also, the demons didn’t frighten me AT ALL. They sat around getting their pictures taken and occasionally stealing souls/killing people, and didn’t do much else until the final 20 pages. Even Lucifer was pretty lukewarm. (Oh, the irony.)

Now, there were a few things I liked that stopped this book from going in the DNF pile. I liked Dante and Lance quite a bit, and the descriptions of the hotel and the historical 20’s tidbits were quite nice. Unfortunately, they didn’t make up for the overwhelming slowness or the patchy mythology, resulting in the 2.5 star rating.

Pros

  • 20’s/Capone background details.
  • Dante.
  • Lance.
  • The luscious descriptions of the hotel.

Cons

  • Really long beginning.
  • To paraphrase my notes, “creepy ewww boss romance”.
  • Dante’s stereotypical “gay bestie” attitude.
  • The overwrought, very purple prose.
  • Waaaaayyy too long.
  • Nothing happens until the last twenty pages.
  • The stupid notebook subplot.

Favorite Scene (s): On page 307, things are kind of getting badass and hardcore as people literally sign their souls away…. And then Haven starts musing about sanitation and I lose all interest whatsoever.

Favorite Line(s): “Answer correctly, and you have further cemented your reputation as a brainy, hopeless outcast. Answer incorrectly, and not only are you considered a bookish nerd, but you’re even bad at that.”~pg 3

Star Rating on Goodreads: 2.5 out of 5.

Final Grade: C. Might read sequels, will probably not reread.

Book Review: “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake (Anna #1)

What an arresting cover. Just... wow. And the color scheme continues inside the book itself, with the type done in a very attractive burgundy that's both pretty and easy to read.

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

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

Maturity Level: Mid-to-upper YA. Quite a bit of violence, blood, and gore, and one sensitive scene that directly addresses violent assault on a child. Strong language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy the TV shows Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you like a strong horror story; you’re a fan of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s; you enjoy paranormal investigative fiction; you’re looking for a fast-paced, evocative read.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like YA or horror; you dislike gore and violence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Theseus Cassio Lowood has a job to do, and it’s not the normal teenager’s occupation of bagging groceries: he hunts and kills maleficent ghosts. It’s a legacy that’s been passed down through his family for ages, and Cas is pretty okay with it. And luckily, he has his mom (who sells charms and potions that she brews up on her kitchen range), her ghost-sniffing half-Siamese cat, and a motley group of friends and informants across the world to help him out. When one of them tips him off about a ghost known (ominously) as Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas immediately finishes his current job and takes off to Thunder Bay, Ontario…. Where he just might find more than he was looking for.

Anna Dressed in Blood is by far one of my favorite books read in 2012. The pacing, characters, and concept come together to form a fast-paced read with lots of humorous/chilling/downright scary moments. Cas’ world is not all that different from ours, but the way in which it is realized is a joy to read. I absolutely ADORED Cas’ mom (particularly scenes where she was trying to sell him on different colleges based not on academic subjects/cost/career opportunities, but on the population of ghosts in the immediate vicinity) and Tybalt (warning: if you’re a cat person, there’s at least one scene in this book that will squick you out). Anna was brilliant, and the relationship she has with Cas is quite a beautiful one, a tenuous connection between a guy who purposely pushes people away and a girl who has been burned one too many times by betrayal. She’s also a badass with a conscience, which is always a plus.

Annnd the references. I almost don’t know where to start with those. There’s the obvious Supernatural connection (ESPECIALLY in that first scene with the hitch-hiking ghost), along with myriad references to Buffy, Harry Potter, Bruce Lee, The Hulk, The Matrix, and GHOSTBUSTERS (which lead to several scenes in the book that made me laugh out loud). These references could have become very heavy handed and derivative, but Blake is pretty skilled at nodding to other fandoms and then going right on to her own story.

Overall, this was a super fun read with ghosts, blood, and a kickass cast. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of horror and ghost stories, and will most certainly be rereading it as soon as I have the chance. 😀

Pros

  • Tybalt.
  • Theseus Cassio Lowood. Most awesome name ever.
  • Awesome worldbuilding.
  • Cas’ mom.
  • The romance. ❤
  • Blake obviously did her research regarding ghost stories, lore, and Wicca.

Con

  • Cas is just a little bit pretentious.
  • A lot of sentences are the same length.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pgs 1-10. Excellent opening that had me hooked from the beginning. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of SPN references to excite my inner fangirl: Cas, a classic car, and a hitch-hiking ghost? Yes, yes, and YES.
  • Pg 200-205. Here’s where we find out exactly what happened to Anna, and it is absolutely CHILLING. I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut after reading it.

Favorite Line (s): “Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”~pg 132

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade: A+. Nice read, very slick and full of references to things that I love. Solid ghost story that looks like it’s going to be continued excellently in the upcoming Girl of Nightmares , which I am eagerly awaiting.

Waiting on Wednesday: “Girl of Nightmares” by Kendare Blake (Anna #2)

 

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine and showcases releases we just can’t wait to get our hands on. 😀

Title: Girl of Nightmares (Click the cover to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Expected Publication Date: Aug 7th, 2012

Summary from Goodreads: In this follow-up to Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas begins seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep, and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong. These aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

 Why I’m Waiting:
I haven’t gotten my review for ADIB up yet, since my life has been crazy, but I really, really enjoyed it and book #2 looks like it’s shaping up to be just as good. The hell aspect intrigues me, and I can’t wait to find out how Cas intends to grip her tight and raise her from perdition save Anna.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below and let me know/link me back to your WoW post. :)

Book Review: “Atticus for the Undead” by John Abramowitz

Title: Atticus For The Undead

Author: John  Abramowitz

Available In:  eBook for Kindle

Maturity Level: 17+. No sexual content, but quite a lot of gore and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy legal fiction, stories about zombies, and stories that do not necessarily end with a happily ever after.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you are someone who DOES enjoy a happily ever after.

Hunter Gamble is not your typical attorney. He doesn’t wear a suit, cares more about the opinion of his research assistant than the opinion of his successful father, and specializes in a very obscure branch of law—arcane defense. His stance is a humanitarian one: why should we fail to provide adequate legal representation for folks like Sam Pollard?

There’s the small matter of Sam being a zombie, but Hunter’s pretty sure that he can work around that with the help of the previously aforementioned awesome assistant, Kirsten, and a teenage wannabe-actress/legal assistant who just so happens to also be a witch.

I was enjoying this book quite a bit despite the fact that the ending kind of jumped out at me. The Austin setting, the clever mixing of society after an influx of supernatural beings, and the law aspect were all right up my alley. However, I’m not really fond of surprises, and when I started this book, I was fairly sure it was not going to be a sad!book. It also seemed like it could have been set-up for a series, which seems pretty impossible right now.

Overall, this is a fairly solid offering—technically speaking, it seems like the editing/copyediting could have been better, but that’s more a nitpick than anything else—and if you’re fond of supernatural creatures, lawyers, or the realistic nothing-is-all-right ending, than this is the book for you.

Pros

  • LOVE the law aspect.
  • The arcane/human dynamic.
  • Sam Pollard. He had such a personality, and my heart truly broke for him when he succumbed. L
  • Kristen and Sabrina. Their bickering/camaraderie was pretty awesome.
  • Police Chief Jolene Ellen Garrison. Jo Ellen. Does anyone else see the reference? Also, she’s a badass.

Cons

  • Slightly stilted dialogue.
  • Writing is full of tics, frequently used words, etc.

 

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Loc 2955-3018, when Kristen delivers her closing argument and kinda pwns everyone.

Favorite Line (s):  “Human decency isn’t the province of the rich, Dad.” ~Hunter Gamble, Atticus for the Undead, location 594.

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

Final Grade: B. Enjoyable, but was a little shaken by the ending, which I didn’t see coming. Definitely a reread possibility, would love to read more books in this series, and will certainly be checking out the author’s debut, Weaver.

Book Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine #1)

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Available In: Hardcover, Audiobook, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle.

Maturity Level: 16+. There’s very little sexual content, but there’s a quite a lot of gore and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy dark, brooding, vaguely Lynchian  settings and time travel.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like fantasy or YA, or if you’re averse to violence and gore.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Jacob has it all, really. His mother is heiress to a massive drug/convenience store chain, and he’s grown up not really having to want for much. However, the only things from his childhood that he truly values are the times he spent with his grandfather and his stories about strange children and wondrous sights. When his grandfather is killed in mysterious circumstances, Jacob decides to take a trip to the island where it all began, off the coast of Wales, and uncovers a secret that he will fight to the death to protect.

Overall, I was fond of this book, but the one thing that made it nigh impossible for me to get through it sometimes was Jacob’s attitude. He is something of a brat. He whines too much. I felt very little sympathy for him when he ended up in dangerous situations, and at times I had to put the book down because I just couldn’t stand his entitled, superior, slightly emo mentality. He also doesn’t appear to change very much over the course of the story—he simply becomes more dramatic and annoying.

That aside, I really did like this book. The peculiar children, the time loops, and the Lynchian setting are all right up my alley. It would have gotten a full four stars and moved up a letter grade had the MC been more likable, but I still enjoyed it.

Pros

  • I love the photos! I’m a ghost photography buff, so the effects were quite interesting to see. They did break up the flow of the book a little bit, but I didn’t really care.
  • Lynchian setting.
  • Nerdy references to shows such as Father Ted.
  • Miss Peregrine. Who is awesome. ‘Nough said.
  • The peculiar children. Who are awesome. Again.
  • The Nazi-Hollowghast parallels.
  • The concept of the time loops.

Cons

  • Plot is kind of slowmoving—I was over halfway through the book before it really caught me.
  • I really didn’t like Jacob, which made it difficult to connect with him.
  • All adults are jerks here (aside from Miss Peregrine, who can still occasionally be a jerk).
  • Romance was kind of squicky.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pg 192-194, when Jacob is just kind of hanging with the peculiar children.
  • Pg 238-239, when Emma and Jacob are exploring the sunken ship.

Favorite Line (s): “We cling to our fairytales until the price for believing them becomes too high.”~ pg 16 of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Star Rating on Goodreads:  3.5 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: B. Might reread, will probably read other books in series even though I feel like this stands better on its own.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of 2012 (So Far)

Greetings, dear readers. I apologize for being woefully absent over the weekend– there has been some rather crazy stuff going on in my life recently, and dealing with the fallout meant that I had to cut my blogging time a little :/. However, I’m back now, and so without further ado, allow me to present:

Em’s Top Ten Favorite Book Covers of 2012 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the absolutely charming folks over at The Broke and the Bookish.

  1.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

   I haven’t read Cinder yet, but the cover is definitely one of my ultimate favorites. The juxtaposition of the slightly robotic leg and the red shoe is really quite attractive, and the font is glorious.

2.) Endlessly by Kiersten White

I personally think Evie looked better in Supernaturally‘s red dress, but I love purple and the sheer saturation of the purple in this cover is really, really pretty.

   3.) Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

     I call this one the “dime-store gothic” cover. It’s kinda corny, but I love it. :3

                                             

4.) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Do I really need to comment? This one is just BEAUTIFUL.

  

5.) Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

   Again, this cover is just pretty. I love the little shadow-wings and the twinkling lights 🙂

        6.) Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer

      I have one word for you all: GOGGLES.

 7.) Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr

  Love love love that dress. ❤

8.) Katana by Cole Gibsen

Awesome chicks, double swords, and sakura blossoms? Count me in!

  9.) The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose

  More pretty! 🙂

10.) Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Again, SO MUCH PRETTY.

What are your favorite book covers of 2012? Comment below and let me know or link me back to your own TTT!

Previous Older Entries