Interview with Cole Gibsen, Author of Senshi

Cole Gibsen is visiting the virtual offices today.  I loved Katana, so I’m delighted that she could drop by to answer a few questions about Senshi, the next book in the series.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Cole Gibsen] I’m a wannabe superhero who loves sewing, comic books, and Chinese food. My nail polish is always chipped.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Senshi?

[Cole Gibsen] Senshi is the sequel to my debut novel and ohmigosh, did I have fun writing it. Not only does Rileigh accept the role as a warrior, but Quentin gets a chance to prove his worth, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cole Gibsen] It was my love of martial arts and Bruce Lee movies that inspired me to write the first KATANA.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Rileigh?

[Cole Gibsen] Fearless, snarky, and stubborn. So I guess that would be fenarkorn. You know, I think we’re on to something here. I’m calling the people at Webster to get this recognized as a word!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Rileigh had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cole Gibsen] When I wrote the first book I had Rebirth by Skillet playing on loop. There couldn’t be a more perfect song for Rileigh.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Quentin won’t leave the house without.

[Cole Gibsen] His sunglasses. I always imagined him to be very much like me in that respect. My eyes are super sensitive to light so I have to wear my sunglasses at all times or else I have to do the squinty eye thing while I drive which is really no fun.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kim’s pockets?

[Cole Gibsen] 1. A pocketknife—really, why bother with anything less than a sword?

2. Gum—Rileigh makes him clench his jaw enough, no need to add to the strain.

3. Fast food receipt—As focused as Kim is with training, I don’t think he’d eat anything that wouldn’t keep him in optimum condition. Rileigh on the other hand…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Cole Gibsen] Stan Lee. Comic books were my life growing up. And I’m not ashamed to admit I still read them.  My goal when writing KATANA was to see if I could take a comic book concept and put it into book form.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Cole Gibsen] 1. A mug of hot tea.

2. My kitty thinks I need her on my lap.


[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Cole Gibsen] Does comic book count? I just read Amazing Spiderman #700 and the ending, I won’t go into it because it’s a major spoiler alert, made me cry. When you invest so much time into a character, they become almost like family. So when they die, it makes an impact.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Cole Gibsen] When I was seventeen I found myself homeless and living out of my car. Back in those days there were no cell phones so my only source of entertainment were the books I checked out from the library that I read in my car with a flashlight. I remember the first book I ever read that really transported me to another world so viscerally was Deerskin by Robin McKinley. I’d loved how this poor girl who suffered and was abused terribly by her father, was able to rise above her past and become so much more than she’d ever dreamed. To this day, that book still haunts and inspires me. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cole Gibsen] So many things! I like to sew and craft things out of felt. I also play the harmonica and sing in an eighties –themed rock band.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cole Gibsen] My website:

My twitter:

My facebook:

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Senshi from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

Is Rileigh’s only hope for salvation to team up with her sworn enemy?

Rileigh Martin just wants to do normal teenage things, like go on romantic dates with Kim, her boyfriend and past life soul mate. Although that seems impossible when she’s the reincarnation of Senshi, a fifteenth century samurai warrior. After a ninja ambush leaves her unable to control her ki powers, Rileigh vows to get them under control before her friends lose more than their eyebrows. But when Kim leaves her for his past life betrothed and the other samurai stop talking to her, Rileigh realizes she doesn’t have any friends left to worry about.

As the ninja attacks increase, Rileigh learns that the reincarnated kunoichi, a powerful female ninja, wants to kill her in order to reclaim her destructive powers. Alone and with increasingly unstable powers, Rileigh’s only offer of help comes from Whitley, her sworn past life enemy. Rileigh knows she doesn’t stand a chance against the kunoichi by herself, but Whitley’s sudden allegiance might be hiding a much deadlier agenda.

Blog Tour–Character Interview with Rileigh from KATANA


Rileigh, the plucky heroine from Cole Gibsen’s Katana, dropped by the virtual offices for a chat.  Check out what she has to say about life, love, and swordsmanship!

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s a typical day like for you?

[Rileigh] Okay, so I was attacked in the mall parking lot and “typical” went out the window after that. I was supposed to spend this summer working at a beauty salon and hanging out at the skate park with my best friend Quentin. But now it seems like I spend the majority of my time avoiding the sharp-pointys that people keep throwing at me. Annoying.

[Manga Maniac Café] You seem to be having a little problem with the spirit a samurai warrior – what’s that all about?

[Rileigh] I wish I knew! There’s a paranoid voice inside of my head that warns me about danger and makes me do things I don’t want to do. If it’s not the spirit of a samurai then my only other alternative is schizophrenia. I can’t say I’m a fan of either option.

[Manga Maniac Café] Kim, a guy you just met, is making a nuisance of himself.  Can you describe your relationship with him?

[Rileigh] Two words: Restraining order. Seriously, that guy gives me the creeps. If I wanted someone to follow me around all the time or to watch over me, I’d get a dog.

[Manga Maniac Café] Your romantic stars seem to finally be in alignment!  How are things going with hottie Whitley?

[Rileigh] It’s a little frustrating to say the least. It’s kind of hard to date when, everywhere I go, people keep throwing shuriken at my face.

[Manga Maniac Café] Whatever happened to the toaster that you purchased right before you were attacked by thugs, possessed by a spirit, and discovered that you were a martial arts master?

[Rileigh] Can you believe my mom didn’t want to bring it to my cousin’s wedding? It’s a really expensive toaster and it only had a little bit of blood on it. It would wipe right off.

[Manga Maniac Café] How do you see yourself in five years?  What do you think you will be doing?

[Rileigh] Breathing? But seriously, if I can make it five years without getting killed then I’d like to be…uh…Can I get back to you on that?

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks for making the time to chat!

[Rileigh] No problem, if I’m still alive, we’ll have to do it again!

You can learn more about Rileigh by visiting Cole Gibsen’s website.

Katana is out now!  You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:


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Review: Katana by Cole Gibsen


Title: Katana

Author: Cole Gibsen

Publisher: Flux

ISBN: 978-0738730400


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Kill Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai tale

Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn’t explain her dreams of fifteenth century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she’s going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana–a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her.


I loved this book!  It had one of my favorite romance tropes – an enduring love that crosses over lifetimes – and a ton of action to keep things moving along. I couldn’t put it down.  Protagonist Rileigh is just snarky enough to be amusing instead of irritating, and the martial arts battles were fun to read.  I was sad when I reached the last page. 

When Rileigh and her best friend are attacked after a shopping trip to the mall, she shocks everyone by beating the crap out of her assailants.  When her life was in danger, a mysterious presence took control of her and handily fended off the thugs.  Shocked, Rileigh doesn’t know whether or not she’s going crazy.  All she knows is that everything around it going nuts, and she is fighting all of the disruptions to her well-ordered life tooth and nail.  When handsome Kim tells her that her life is in danger, she has a hard time trusting him.  When he tells her she was a samurai warrior in a past life, she starts to freak out. How can that even be possible?

While I had to make a serious disconnect from reality, I found the premise of this story irresistible.  As Rileigh fights to keep her life normal and death free, she keeps finding herself in situations where she is forced to admit that there is something really, really wrong going on.  What is that voice that keeps talking to her, and how does she know how to defend herself against swords, shurikens, and pummeling fists?  She’s never given much time to think about her new abilities, because her life is unraveling right before her eyes.  She isn’t exactly the bravest person around, and she would really like to turn tail and run away from danger, but that annoying voice inside her head won’t let her.

This is a quick, fun read that will keep you turning pages in rapid succession.  I literally did not move for extended periods of time once I started reading Katana.  Rileigh’s voice is strong and distinctive, and she held my attention for her entire adventure.  I loved the flashbacks to her warrior past, and kept wondering how things could possibly be made right for Senshi and Yoshido.  I understood Rileigh’s reluctance to accept all of the weird things that were happening to her, though I did wish she had trusted Kim sooner, rather than later, when her stubbornness almost got her, and several of her friends, killed. 

If you enjoy fast-paced adventures with a strong, kick-ass heroine, give Katana a read.  Just remember to suspend your belief before you start reading. 

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher


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Review: After Midnight by Lynn Viehl


Title: After Midnight: Youngbloods #1

Author: Lynn Viehl

Publisher: Flux

ISBN: 978-0738726328


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sophomore Catlyn Youngblood is used to the nomadic existence she and her two older brothers have shared since the death of their parents. When they settle down for good in the sleepy backwoods town of Lost Lake, Florida, Cat thinks they might finally fit in. Instead, they’re shunned by the locals.

While riding her horse late one night, Cat meets an enigmatic and handsome boy named Jesse Raven. Even more strange than her overpowering attraction to him is Jesse’s apparent aversion to the sun. As their attraction intensifies, long-kept secrets come to light. Cat learns that the Ravens are a centuries-old vampire clan . . . and worse still, that she and her brothers are descendents of Abraham Van Helsing, the world-famous vampire hunter. Mortal enemies by blood, the two families do all they can to keep them apart. But Cat and Jesse will risk everything to be together—including death.


I was disappointed with After Midnight, and I don’t think I would have been if I hadn’t read the blurb on the back.  The plot synopsis gives much of the story away, eliminating any sense of suspense that I might have experienced while reading.  One of the most irritating aspects about this is that I usually don’t even bother to read the back of the book – I just get a general idea of what the book is about from surfing around the internet, and then I just go with the flow.  I did read the back of this one, though, and it reminded me of why I shouldn’t read them – there are spoilers in it and it did taint my reading experience.

Catlyn and her brothers live the life of nomads, never staying in one place long enough to put down any roots.  When her older brother Trick announces that they are moving again, permanently, to Lost Lake, Florida, Cat isn’t sure whether or not to believe him.  She wants to have roots and a sense of being somewhere she belongs, but she has been forced to move so many times that she doesn’t think that is possible.  Her first day at school earns her the unwanted attention of both bully Aaron and his girlfriend Tiffany, the most popular girl in school, and suddenly she isn’t sure that she wants to stay in one place for very long. How is she going to fit in after making enemies of two of the most popular kids at school?

I enjoyed the setting and the family dynamics here, and they kept me reading.  The plot felt very disjointed though, with Cat’s “day” life and her “night” life not meshing together well.  After a forbidden nighttime ride around their new property, Cat meets Jesse, a mysterious boy who lives in a secluded mansion on the island in the middle of a lake.  Jesse is homeschooled, and he has a condition that doesn’t allow him to be outside during the day.  Sunlight burns his skin, so the night is his domain.  Cat and Jesse are drawn to each other, and even though she fights her attraction to him, Cat is captivated by him.  She dreams about him, and she doesn’t feel complete unless they are together.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Cat and Jesse.  They truly seemed to be meant for each other, and I liked the sections of the book that focused on them the best.  Her brothers’ interference added another layer to the complicated relationships between all of the characters.  Trick is especially manipulative and controlling, and when Cat rebels against his rules, he doesn’t take her sudden quest for independence well.  Cat really is a good kid, and she is torn over disobeying her brother.  He has sacrificed a lot to care for her and Gray, and it just seems wrong to ignore his demands.  However, as he limits her freedom more and more, she begins to wonder what is really going on with Trick, Jesse, and the mysterious trunk in the hayloft.

I thought the pacing felt off, and the ending was a mashup of a head spinning amount of YA tropes.  Despite that, I am still interested in seeing what happens to Cat and Jesse next.  I just know not to read the blurb on the back of the book the next time around.

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by Book It Forward Tours