Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review and Interview: Shinobi by Cole Gibsen

Publication Date: March 8th, 2014
Finished Date: May 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Flux
Format: Paperback
Pages: 312
Series: Katana #3
My Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Author's Website
Blurb from Goodreads:

Rileigh is ready to celebrate.

Things have been quiet (as quiet as life can be for a reincarnated samurai), she's graduating high school, and her boyfriend, Kim, has finally regained his lost memories. But the urge to celebrate is short-lived when she realizes that if Kim can remember, chances are her (im)mortal enemy, Sumi, can remember as well. Sure enough, it's not long before the reincarnated ninja attacks Rileigh and her friends. But in the aftermath of the fight, Rileigh discovers that Sumi has performed an ancient ritual that allows her to switch bodies with Rileigh . . . and it's draining her ki. Hunted by the Network (who believe Rileigh is Sumi), Rileigh must track the vengeful ninja down before her own powers completely vanish.
My Review

*Received a retail copy from NOQ Store*

As far as the history of conclusions goes, SHIONOBI isn’t the best of conclusions for a series, but I think it’s still pretty darn awesome.

With Sumi’s and Kim’s memories gone, Rileigh plunges herself neck-deep into Order missions. Drown out the pain, get her mind over the fact that Kim doesn’t remember her anymore. As Rileigh celebrated graduation day with her motley crew of ex-samurai and best friend, Quentin, Kim makes an appearance and they find out that he has regained his memories – and so did Sumi.

I can’t even begin to describe how much trouble Rileigh and Q gets into because of Sumi’s new evil scheme, but I definitely didn’t expect it at all! Three-quarters of me loved the new twist, but the other quarter… It’s like how a protagonist gets out of a situation with a then-and-there newfound power. Sort of like Ms Cole is taking the easy route for an exciting new plot? It’s similar to how I feel about Sumi’s electric magic. I understand if a villain has magic in X-Men, but not in the world Ms Cole has created. It’s a stretch for me to understand Rileigh’s Ki powers because there are texts and stories about chi flow and whatnot in Chinese (or was is Buddhist?) history, but not electricity, zapping powers. Just…no. Then came this soul-switching thing? Even though this is an urban fantasy? I don’t think so.

I love the increase in screen-time for Rileigh and Kim! Even through unprecedentedly difficult circumstances (and I’m not even kidding/exaggerating), Kim shone like a true samurai in shining armor (I know it’s lame, but hey, I got my point across). His name still chafes at me – I mean, why can’t they just call him Gimhae which is his real name, instead of calling him by his family name – but my respect for him just tenfold-ed. One bad point for more Ri-Kim time was that we didn’t get to see much of Braden, Drew and Michelle, and they sort of faded into the background. Their characters and personalities pretty much hollowed out and they became very 2D and generic as secondary characters.

Whitley’s role in SHINOBI took on greater significance, and kudos to Sumi for new levels of creativity and desperation! Though with the continued flashbacks to Japan in the 1490s, I’m starting to understand the hatred and desperation in Sumi…and to empathize with her. There did come a point where I resented Gimhae more than Sumi, and that’s a plus point to Ms Cole’s great writing. Sumi, or rather Chiyo, did whatever she could to survive even after months of torture (yes, it was gruesome), but Yoshido judged her for it. Dude, you didn’t even make an effort to search for her body after news of her supposed death reached you, and you judged her for becoming the head of the bandits? Not cool.

The flashbacks were haunting and beautiful, and shed so much light on the complex relationship between our protagonists. I’m not usually a fan of dual-time writing styles, but I thought it really enhanced the story in the case of SHINOBI. One final adventure for Rileigh & crew, with lots of twists and plot curves that is as unpredictable as it is exciting. This is a short novel and KATANA is still my favorite, but I’d recommend SHINOBI to fans of the series or to otakus (anime-lovers) like myself!

P.S. I’m still bitter about Gimhae being called Kim. Every time I think Kim, a girly man pops into my head.

My Rating
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I actually did an interview with Cole after I read SENSHI, which was way back last year when it was just released in March. I wanted to post it to celebrate the release of the book, but alas, school work was crazy cause it was my A Level year last year. So I wanted to post it together with my SHINOBI review when it was released, but...yeah enough excuses. (Cole, if you're reading this, I'M SORRY!!)

Anyway, Cole was so kind to agree to an interview, and she was SO PATIENT with my many questions. So, without further adieu.

Author Bio

I love writing, day-old chinese food, and my nail polish is always chipped. My YA novel, KATANA, will be released, spring 2012 by Flux. You can check out my website at www.colegibsen.com Word to your mother. (But seriously, you should call her. She worries.)   

Connect with Cole:
Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

An Interview with Cole Gibsen

CYP: Hi Cole! Thanks for coming over to the blog today!

1) First things first, tell us a little about yourself. Something that cannot be found on the Net or maybe something that even your family doesn't know about?

Cole: I’ve taken up the blues harp. I started taken lessons over a year ago. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the harmonica and the blues that has always called to me. At first, I felt a little silly, but now I’m so glad I decided to learn. It’s so much fun!

2) What are some of your interests/hobby? Do they have any connections to how you came up with the KATANA series?

Cole: I’ve taken martial arts for years, everything from akido to kick boxing. And if there’s one thing I learned while taking martial arts, it’s that I’m really bad at martial arts. It’s much safer (and less painful) to write about it instead.

3)What is the story behind the series? The inspiration behind it? Was it like a BAM kind of thing, or did the storyline slowly flow to you as you did or looked at something?

Cole: The idea for the KATANA series came to me one night after having my butt kicked in taekwondo. I remember nursing my black eye with an ice pack and looking up at a poster of Bruce Lee on the wall just wishing his spirit would possess me long enough so I could finally win a fight. Needless to say, that never happened.

(LOL, awesome start to an awesome series! XD)

4) How about the characters? Was Rileigh an imitation of a friend? Was Kim Gimhae (SQUEE) based on your own fantasies?

Cole: Rileigh was based on the girl I wanted to be in high school; funny, snarky, and for the most part, confident. And Kim, well, you could definitely say he was based on a fantasy of mine. *grin* I’ve had a long-standing crush on Bruce Lee and it definitely leaked through to the pages of my book.

5) Did the magic element of Senshi come with the original plot? Or was it something you thought of along the way to spice things up a little? (Mainly about the electric thing going on for Whitley in Katana and now his reincarnated employer)

Cole: I was inspired by the many books I read on historical Japan. Magic and mysticism were a big part of their belief system. Even today, you can search for videos on Youtube and find men lighting fires with ki energy alone. It’s amazing!

6) How many books are you planning for the KATANA series? (Please say you don't see an end in sight yet.. :D)

Cole: Ha! So far there are three planned…but I would never say never. *grin*

(PLEEEZZZZZZ let there be more!!)

7) Which character do you like to write the most? Which character did you like the most? Which one turned out the best, in your opinion? Did the plot and characters turned out the way you wanted them too?

Cole: Like any author, I think all my characters are fun to write. But my favorite scenes are the ones with Rileigh and Whitley. There’s something about that “I hate you but I need your help” relationship that is so much fun to put down on page. For the most part my characters behaved, but when I wrote book three, someone betrays someone else and even I had no idea that was coming.

(Ri and Whitley kinda reminds me of Allison and Jackal in The Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa...kinda...)

8) Just a random thought, but why make Kim the only Asian? Why not all be Americans or more Asians or more nationalities?

Cole: It was important to me to show that that spirits were genderless and raceless. That’s why Michelle, who was male in the first book was female in the second. In my world, gender and skin color doesn’t matter when you reincarnated. Bodies are just shells and the only thing that remains constant was a person’s spirit. I actually had more nationalities in the first draft, but my agent at the time was concerned that was far-fetched and too convenient. Looking back on it now, I wish I would have kept it.

9) Are there any tidbits about future installments that you can share?? ;D Or any deleted scenes that you want to share?

Cole: Book three was my absolute favorite to write. In it, I answered a lot of hanging questions and revealed the origins of one of my most hated characters. It was important for me to show my villains didn’t wake up one day and decide to become evil. It happened gradually and with good reason.

10) I'm suffering from withdrawal now that I've finished reading Senshi... Do you have any good book recommendations that are similar to your series? What are some of your favorite books/series/authors?

Cole: Oh my goodness, yes! There are so many great Asian-themed books recently out and coming out. A few to check out are INK by Amanda Sun, THE TOKYO HEIST by Diana Renn, STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff, and JET BLACK AND THE NINJA WIND by Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani.

(Definitely check out Stormdancer. It's one of the best YA Fantasy/Steampunk I've ever read.)

11) What made you start penning down all these crazy stories?

Cole: I always wanted to be a writer, but I lacked the self confidence to try. It wasn’t until the economy ate my small business in 2007 and I was faced with unemployment. Suddenly I had to figure out what to do with my life. I figured, if ever there was a time to write, this was it!

12) Another random question, do you watch anime or read any manga series??

Cole: I haven’t in awhile. I’m so ashamed. I think the last manga I read was the Vampire Hunter series. But I do have a running subscription to The All New X-Men. I get a lot of my inspiration from comics.

(Personally, there's this manga series called Shinobi Life I stumbled upon accidentally when searching up SHINOBI on GR. It's GREAT!! I gobled up all lordknows how many volumes in 2 days.)

Rapid fire questions!

1) Pen and paper or Microsoft?
Cole: Definitely pen and paper for outlining and a keyboard for actual writing.

2) Asian folklore or Middle Eastern myths (think Greek, Roman and Egypt)?

3) Hot chocolate or whiskey?
Cole: I’ll take a beer. *grin*

4) Favorite movie?
Cole: This changes daily. But as of now, The Avengers.

Thankyousomuch, Cole! :)
And thanks, everybahdy for visiting the blog! Do y'all like ninja stories? Any favorites/recs? :))

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Celebrating SHIELD OF WINTER's Release!!


One of the four books I've been anticipating the most!!! Hawke, Kaleb, Vasic, and of course, Aden. All of them has always been so enigmatic and disgustingly (though unintentionally but undeniably) sexy.

To celebrate the release of Shield of Winter (AHHHHHHHH ITZHEREITZHERE), I've put together a mini interview with (the super amazing) Ms Singh and her assistant, Ashwini (Guild Hunter! Hah), and a giveaway!

For those who hasn't read the series (which is nigh impossible, cause if you're into Paranormal Romance (PNR), Nalini Singh is like the first thing that pops up along with JR Ward, Ilona Andrews, and like Larrissa Ione), don't venture beyond here cause there will be spoilers!

By Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling #13
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Berkeley (US)/Gollancz (UK)

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Author's Website


“The alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) draws us back into her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world, a world torn between violence and peace, passion and ice..."

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Author Bio

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Nalini Singh is passionate about writing. Though she’s travelled as far afield as the deserts of China, the Highlands of Scotland, and the temples of Japan, it is the journey of the imagination that fascinates her the most. She’s beyond delighted to be able to follow her dream as a writer.

Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand. You can contact her directly through her website: www.nalinisingh.com. While visiting the site, Nalini invites you to join her newsletter for up-to-date news about both the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series, as well as fun exclusive extras, including free short stories set in her worlds.

You can also find her online at twitter.com/NaliniSingh, and facebook.com/AuthorNaliniSingh.

A (Mini) Interview with Nalini Singh

CYP: Hi Nalini! Thank you so much for agreeing to have this interview with me!

Nalini: Thanks for the invitation!

1) I'm sure you get this question a lot, but... What made you start to write seriously? Like when did you make up your mind that being an author will be your legit career?

Nalini: I've always made up stories in my head, but it was as a teenager that I began to try to write full-length novels and began to explore what it took to get published. It was a number of years and many manuscripts later before I could become a full-time writer.

(I should have phrased this as "did you have any doubts about being an author initially?" Damnnnn. Oh well)

2) Which books in each series are your favorite? Or rather, which book gave you the most satisfaction when you've reached the The End?

Nalini: I can never pick a favorite. I spend twenty-four hours a day with the characters when I write, and I must be passionate about them all if the story is to resonate with the reader.

3) You've mentioned that the changeling series arc will end in another two or three books including Shield of Winter right? Is the number more definitive now or still unclear?

Nalini: The story arc that began with Slave to Sensation will likely end with book 14, though it's possible I'll need another book to wrap things up. I won't know that for sure until I begin writing. However, after that, I'd like to do what I call my "tangent" books, about characters and parts of the world we haven't had a chance to explore in depth to this point.

4) How about the Guild Hunter series? How many books are we looking at currently? Is the ending clear in your head already?

Nalini: I'm contracted up to book 8, and I plan to do more books after that. I know where the series is going, but I'm not sure how many books exactly it'll take to get there. Also, I want to give all of the main characters a chance to tell their story - for example, I wouldn't want to end the series without writing Aodhan's book. So for now, there is no set number. It will take as long as it takes, and when it's done, it's done. :-)

5) For the Guild Hunter series, will the next few books be in Elena/Raphael's POV or some other couples'? (Sorry, I'm a super big fan of theirs and was kiiiiiinda - just kinda - disappointed when Shadow was announced to be in Ash/Janvier's POV)

Nalini: I just finished writing Archangel's Shadows, so I'm giving myself some time to think about the next book. Whatever happens, you will see Elena and Raphael (they're a strong presence in Archangel's Shadows, too), but I'm fairly certain they won't be the main characters in the next book. That said, I reserve the right to change my mind. ;-)

6) How about the Psy-Changeling series? Will Aden be the next?? :D

Nalini: Yes, Aden's book is next. :-)


7) Will you be writing novels/novellas about the other changelings? (Like Teijan and the falcons?)

Nalini: I would like to do this after completing the main Psy-Changeling story arc. I'd definitely like to explore the falcons and the sea changelings, for example. I'm not so sure Teijan will get a book or a novella of his own - it's more likely his story will be told through the series, but again, that could change. I let my characters drive the stories, so sometimes, they surprise me.

Can you imagine how awesome it is to be able to ask your favorite author of all time questions you've been dying to ask? I SQUEALED like a pig in heat. Haha, kidding, but yeah I was crazy happy when Ashwini said I could have a mini interview with Nalini (she's so busy on tour, tho I am bitter she isn't coming to Asia...or more specifically Singapore. Sighpie). Crazy happy.

In conjunction with the interview, Nalini also agreed on a giveaway for a paperback of the US edition of WILD INVITATION. (Cooper and Grace's story is inside!!! GUYS, one of my favorite couples here!! Just saying, haha.) It will be personalized to the winner and she's making this giveaway international. Awesomeness all the way around.

This giveaway will last for a week, so it'll end next week Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for visiting! If anyone has read SoW, please tell me what you think!!! Letz discuzz Vasic's awesomeness.

Cyp's Abbreviation Dictionary

DNF = Did Not Finish
HEA = Happily Ever After
PNR = Paranormal Romance
UF = Urban Fantasy
YA = Young Adult

Erotica Reference

BDSM = Bondage/Discipline, Dominant/Submissive, Sadism/Masochism
f/f = female/female
m/f = male/female
m/m = male/male


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