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.

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! 😀

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: “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.

Waiting on Wednesday: “Illuminate” by Aimee Agresti

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we just can’t wait for. 🙂

 Title: Illuminate

  by Aimee Agresti

  Due out March 6th, 2012

  From Goodreads:

  Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Thoughts and Impressions: I, for one, am always keen on the shy-girl-finds-her-voice plot for obvious reasons. I also like improbably beautiful and luxurious settings with a lot of darkness running under the surface. Also, frankly, the cover on this is so lovely, I would probably buy it just to stroke the book jacket and stare. Overall, this looks like it’s going to be a solid offering for YA in March– I probably won’t preorder it, but I will definitely see if I can pick it up at my local bookstore.

Book Review: “Paranormalcy” (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy

Author: Kiersten White

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

Warnings: PG for mild sexual content, violence, and simulated profanity.

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

Do not make the mistake of judging this book by its cover.

If you were to do that, you might think that this is one of the many shallow paranormal teen romances that make their way out every year, with covers that emulate the Twilight series and heroines who spent the vast majority of their time being pretty for the boys. Evie is definitely a pretty girly-girl heroine… but more in the style of Buffy Summers than Bella Swan.

Evie’s a girl who really likes to think of herself as normal. She loves pink, glitter, and soft soap-operas about high school. Sure, she has a job neutralizing all sorts of paranormal nasties for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, or IPCA. And she might possibly be falling in love with a shape-shifter. And yeah, there’s some faerie prophecy that she just might be a huge part of, the consequences of which could result in the end of the world. But that’s not too out there, right?

Overall, this is an appealing book. It’s got a lot of humour and quirk, and it’s definitely “light reading”, but that should not be mistaken for shallowness, because this book actually has a lot of depth. The romance between Evie and Lend is adorably sweet (rather than sickeningly so) and there are actually some pretty complex morality conflicts tied up into the plot, especially towards the end. The conflict/relationship between Evie and Vivian evokes echoes of the Buffy/Faith days of BtVS, and towards the end, the bits with the souls bore an eerie resemblance to Castiel’s storyline in late season 6/early season 7 of SPN. This book should appeal to fans of BtVS/Angel/Whedonverse, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it MIGHT appeal to certain branches of SPN fandom, because despite her floofy exterior, Evie is one kick-ass chick.

Pros

  • Evie’s attitude. She’s just so quirky. The ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but I love it.
  • IPCA. I like the concept, and it was executed nicely as well.
  • The irreverent treatment of paranormals.
  • Lish and her computer set-up.
  • Lend <3. Definitely one of my fav romantic heroes of the year, and a refreshing change from the overbearing Edward Cullen type commonly seen.
  • White’s research was actually very well done, and she weaves little bits of legend in like it’s nobody’s business.
  • Unseelie Vs. Seelie. FOREVER LOVE

Cons

  • Evie’s ditziness. The same thing that attracted me to Evie turned me off to her just a bit; sometimes when her inner monologues came up I’d just roll my eyes, because I knew she was about to go off on some super-bubbly tangent. It wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the book, but it was noticeable.
  • Wandering, slightly frenetic plot. I felt like the Seelie Vs. Unseelie concept could have been introduced earlier in the book.

Theme Song: “Everytime We Touch”~ Cascada

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars

Final Grade: A-. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

Book Review: “Angelfall” (Penryn and the End of Days, Book #1) by Susan Ee

Title: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, Book #1)

Author: Susan Ee

Available In: eBook for Kindle, ebook for Nook.

Warnings: PG 13 for violence, disturbing imagery, and  graphic portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia/accompanying issues.

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

Angelfall takes place six weeks after the angels have come to destroy Penryn’s world. Scavenging for food and a roof to sleep under is now the norm, and Penryn’s already got her hands full with her unstable mother and paralyzed sister Paige when a wounded angel drops from the sky. When Paige is kidnapped, Penryn must make a choice—help the angel in order to find her sister, or let her prejudice be the cause of Paige’s imminent demise.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I know why self-pubs tend to get a bad rap— lack of editorial direction, poor copyediting, self-indulgent authors who never stop to think about the audience they’re writing for—and none of these tendencies are exhibited here. In fact, I was surprised to find that this was a self-pubbed book—it could easily have been at home on a shelf beside The Hunger Games in my library, were a print version available.

And the characters! I simply couldn’t get enough of them. Penryn and Raffe were both excellently badass. Penryn’s mother was a perfect, chilling portrayal of a woman dancing with madness in a crazy world. Even side characters such as the spymaster twins, the leaders of the Resistance, and the albino angel were interesting and complex to a certain degree. The world was also nicely done—very rough and tumble, very post-apocalypse, though human society does seem to have degenerated exceedingly quickly for only six weeks of occupancy by the angels. It feels more like six months, or even six years, but I’m sure it would feel that way to live in Ee’s world so I count this as a nice nuance rather than a flaw.

In summary? Awesome book. Rather like Sandman Slim met The Hunger Games  and had an awesome YA baby. And at only 99 cents on Kindle/Nook, there’s no reason not to check it out! Book #2 is due out Summer 2012, according to Ee’s website, so grab Angelfall and read it now. You won’t regret it.

IN CASE YOU IGNORED THE SPOILER WARNING ABOVE, HERE’S WHERE IT GETS REALLY SPOILER-Y. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ANGELFALL, STOP RIGHT NOW OR PREPARE TO BE SPOILED.

Pros

  • The world. Chilling, gritty, not a time I’d want to live in but a time that I freaking love reading about.
  • Penryn. I love several things about Penryn. I love that she’s a fighter, and that the reasons for her being a good fighter are explained. I appreciate the fact that her odd name is also explained, at location 1507 according to my Kindle app and my notes. I love that she loves Paige so much, and that she exhibits infinite patience with her mother. Mostly? I love that Penryn is the resourceful, awesome survivor that she is.
  • the  romance. I am always in support of badass x badass, and Penryn and Raffe are definitely badasses.
  • Raffe. An agnostic archangel with bucketloads of snark always makes me happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty to boot.
  • I really, really like how Penryn’s mom’s mental illness is handled in this book. It’s chilling, realistic, and does not dehumanize the character; rather, it makes her more human and more sympathetic to the reader.
  • Two words. ZOMBIE ANGELS. BEST PLOT TWIST EVER.

Cons

  • The romance. Which also appeared on the Pros list, but whatever. I always cringe a little when a centuries old, practically immortal being falls in love with a teenage girl, but in this case, the badass factor of both participants outweighs the squick.
  • Some descriptive passages could be shortened, and certain descriptive words are used repetitively (Paige’s face is described as being “pixie-like” on numerous occasions).
  • I felt the ending was a little abrupt, and was not thrilled about the fact that Penryn was paralyzed for the entire climax, but it did match the tone of the story.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A+. Will definitely reread, eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.