Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and he's out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her...forever.

Spirit Bound, by Richelle Mead, is the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series. After Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway returns to St. Vladimir's Academy to finish her education, several thoughts are running through her mind. She cannot forget her former lover because she discovers his new life as a ruthless Strigoi (undead vampire). This revelation aches her so much because she still loves him. She passes her guardian examination near the top of her class, and can finally start a new life as an adult outside the school grounds. She gradually starts a new relationship with Adrian and heads to the Moroi headquarters with her best friend, Lissa.

Meanwhile, Dimitri sends her letters stating that she's watching her, and she knows he is hunting her whenever she leaves the protection of the wards. Nevertheless, she cannot forget what she learned from her trip in Siberia: there is way to heal a Strigoi. This hopeful message forces Rose to develop a plan. This means a visit from the man who tried to kill her best friend. Before Rose can reunite with Dimitri, she has several obstacles in her path: who is more important to her? Lastly, can she face the consequences for her actions? More danger lies ahead of her if she is not careful.

I read this novel in a week. Seriously, it only took me seven days to read nearly 500 pages. I enjoyed this story very much, and I am still anxious for more information about Rose's future! Each chapter compelled me in such a way that I did not want to stop reading. I have been reading vampire mystery novels since high school, and this is one of the best young adult vampire series out there today.

I love Richelle Mead's writing style. Her stories are easy to read with suspense, romance, and action. She has a great command over her character's development and the complicated emotions that can happen when friends and lovers are apart. I sympathize with Rose because her life was torn upside down when she lost Dmitri. Now, she must prove her innocence before the Moroi Court or face death! There are so many twists, but it makes the plot even more interesting and mysterious.

Stay tuned for the sixth and final novel in the Vampire Academy series, Last Sacrifice

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review: The Myth (2005)

The Myth (2005) is a historical adventure-fantasy film. It is loosely based on the real general, Meng Yi, during the Qin dynasty (221 - 206 BC). It stars Jackie Chan, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Kim Hee-sun, and Mallika Sherawat. Other settings include contemporary India and Hong Kong. The film title is also known as "San wa" in traditional Chinese (Mandarin).

Jackie Chan stars as Jack Lee, a famous archaeologist, who sets out on an amazing adventure to find clues about his past life. With his companion, William, they search for a rare material that can create a field of zero gravity in India. As he ventures further into his dream, he starts to connect the visions in his dreams. Their journey leads them back to China for the final clue to the puzzle.

In his past life, he is a Qin Dynasty general, Meng Yi, who falls in love with the king’s new concubine, Ok-Soo, whom he escorted and rescued when a raid thwarts their procession. The South Korean princess also falls in love with him and vows to stay by his side. When the emperor falls severely ill, he requests for the immortality elixir, which can save his life. When Meng Yi dies in battle, Ok-Soo and his companion, Nangong, are accused of treason and forced to drink the elixir. As a result, they are imprisoned in the emperor’s mausoleum for eternity.

In his journey, he discovers one of the greatest treasures in ancient China: the royal mausoleum of China’s first emperor, Shihuang, who was infatuated with immortality. Both Jack and William realize that the rare material is a fragment of a meteorite that fell on China during the Qin Dynasty. With the meteorite, the entire royal mausoleum is a floating sanctuary. Jack Lee also reunites with Ok-Soo, who has been waiting for him to return for nearly 2,000 years. However, their reunion is short-lived when Ok-Soo realizes Jack is not Meng Yi anymore and the world has changed since her time. After Jack escapes, the royal mausoleum collapses.

I loved this movie. The plot has a silly fantasy twist near the end, but I constantly wonder about the two lovers' fate. I quarreled with my friends whether Ok-Soo will finally reunite with Jack lee in a future life. The action was good, and I liked the scenes in India. I can tell Jackie Chan put a lot of serious effort into making the film. Unlike his prior comedic movies, this one has a more serious undertone. The theme song, "Endless Love," which is sung in Mandarin Chinese, is a beautiful classic. The duet capture the emotion of the ill-fated romance perfectly. Plus, Jackie Lee is a great singer!

Good news: If you want to watch more about historical legend, there is a new TV series based on the movie earring in China right now.

It is available to buy and rent on DVD.

Endless Love (Music Video)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: Dead in the Family (Southern Vampire #10)

Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton. In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour, and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

Dead in the Family, the tenth novel in the Southern Vampire series, takes place in contemporary Bon Temps, Lousiana. Her former roommate, Amelia, returns to New Orleans; her fairy cousin, Claude, moves in with her after the death of his sister, Claudette. After the Fairy War in the previous novel, Bill, Sookie's ex-vampire boyfriend, is recovering slowly from silver poisoning. Sookie takes it upon herself to find a missing kin to cure him. Alcide, leader of the local werewolves, asks Sookie for a favor to use her land for hunting. She discovers there are several dead bodies on her land, and someone not human has been trespassing in the woods.

Meanwhile, both Sookie and Eric confessed their love for each other and begin to take their relationship seriously. Before they can enjoy their time together, his maker, Appius Livius Ocella, appears with his new child/playmate, Alexei. His presence puts a strain on their relationship because Eric must heed to his maker's bidding. Then, Sookie develops ambivalent feelings for Eric once this new person and other important tasks enter her life. She still has not recovered fully from the Fairy War. Who is the dead body in her backyard? Why is the mystery person targeting her specifically? Sookie better watch her back carefully, because the deeper she dwells into the supernatural world, the harder it is to step back into the human world.

Before I begin my review, I was very excited to read this tenth addition in the Southern Vampire series. I love the character, Sookie Stackhouse, and her supernatural reality. I am also a huge fan of the True Blood series on HBO. When I heard that this book was officially released last month, I could not wait to continue reading more about Sookie's amazing journeys. The last novel impressed me with awe-inspiring suspense. If you a new visitor, please browse my previous reviews on this series under the "harris" label.

However, this book disappointed me. I wanted to enjoy it like the previous novels, but the storyline did not flow well. Some parts of the plot felt haphazardly written. Characters that I thought would receive more attention (e.g., her nephew) were only mentioned in two chapters and never heard from again. The appearance of a famous historical figure also felt strange because it happened so abruptly and I never felt as though I understood the character's background. Lastly, there were so many subplots in this novel that I wonder how does Sookie manage to live her own life!

Overall, I had mixed feelings about this novel. I thought it could have been written better with fewer characters and side stories. The new characters did not amaze me; their portrayal was short-lived. The entire plot became difficult later for me to follow on several occasions. I also lacked the compulsion to continue reading. Harris disappointed me in a major way with this story.

Stay tuned for the eleventh book in the Southern Vampire series, Dead Reckoning