Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Shadow Walker (Stormwalker #3)

Winter descends on the town of Magellan, and new evil comes to call.

Shadow Walker, by Allyson James, is the third novel in the Stormwalker series. It is winter season in Magellan, Arizona, a high-desert town where the paranormal is normal. Hopi County sheriff Nash Jones is chasing stormwalker Janet Begay down a lonely highway in the desert when the ground collapses beneath them. After tumbling two hundred feet into an underground cavern, she manages to escape with unconscious Nash from her dragon shape-shifter boyfriend, Mick. However, she can't get out of her mind that something dark and dangerous wants her underneath those caverns.

After Mick checks out the sinkhole, his behavior becomes strange and erratic. He has become "touched by shadows", becoming a clear danger to Janet and her friends. Meanwhile, a new county inspector is intent on shutting down her hotel business. Janet must also deal with two other surprises -- her Navajo grandmother takes up residence near her and her elusive younger sister who shares the same Beneath powers. Without much time, Janet must free Mick before she loses him forever.

Janet faces her greatest danger when an evil force enslaves the love of her life. The tables have turned: she must rescue Mick before he becomes a danger to dragons and humans alike. Unwilling to sacrifice both her hotel business and her love for Mick, she journeys with her friends to put an end to the shadows.

This was a very entertaining novel with action, romance, and suspense. Janet is very brave to confront a powerful evil witch to save Mick's life. The power of love is an amazing beauty, and Allyson James captures it perfectly in Mick and Janet's relationship. Overall, I enjoy it and can't wait to read the next novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Stormwalker series, Nightwalker.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bloodlines: Original Beginning from Adrian's Perspective

If you read the first book, Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead, you will learn that the author had originally planned to write the new series from Adrian's perspective. Well, that changed when Sydney became the protagonist. Nevertheless, Mead provided her fans with this exclusive peak at the original beginning of Bloodlines. If you want to know what happened to Adrian after his relationship ended with Rose Hathaway, check out the original chapter below. I must warn it is truly heartbreakening: Bloodlines - Original Chapter One

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)

Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.

First Drop of Crimson, by Jeaniene Frost, is the first novel in the Night Huntress World books, a spinoff series within the same world of the Night Huntress books featuring Cat Crawfield and master vampire, Bones. The story takes place a year after the events in At Grave's End and Destined for an Early Grave. Denise McGregor became a widow after her human husband died in a gruesome and terrifying ghoul attack. As a result, she wants no part of the supernatural world as she tries to resume a normal life. The night is not safe for mortals, and Denise knows all too well what lurks in the shadows.

Unfortunately, her family has a dark secret. An ancient ancestor stumbled upon dark magic and became an immortal shapeshifter. He escaped his demon master, who has marked Denise as prey. The demon orders Denise to find her missing ancestor if she does not want to suffer more human loss in her family. She turns to Spade, Bones' best friend and a mysterious master vampire, for help. He has walked the earth for centuries vowing never to love another human again. He grudgingly accepts her request, and travels across continents to search for clues on her missing ancestor. What Spade does not realize, though, is Denise may arouse his deepest hungers. Before she can become his mate, they must survive the nightmare together.

This spin-off book exceeded my expectations with a surprising twist. I was afraid that the author would go the cliche route with Spade turning Denise into a vampire against her will. In that case, there would have been no originality in the plot. Instead, Denise made the choice to become a supernatural being so that she can live an eternal life with Spade. That was both romantic and innovative on the author's part. The beginning is dull, but it becomes more interesting in the second half of the book. The other main cast--Bones, Cat, and Mencheres--make cameo appearances and help Spade with the critical mission.

I am delighted that Frost made this spin-off series so that fans of the Night Huntress series can get a flavor of the supporting cast. After reading five back-to-back novels about Cat's adventures (who finally turns into a vampire), it was time for a change. Denise and Spade share painful secrets but with their resilience they will make a great couple. Overall, I highly recommend this novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Night Huntress series, Eternal Kiss of Darkness. This spin-off book focuses on Mencheres's love life.

Review: xxxHOLic (2006-2011)

xxxHOLic (2006) is a Japanese horror anime based in contemporary Japan. It include 24 episodes and three original animated videos (OAVs): Shunmuki, Ro, and Adayume. It also takes place in the same universe as Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE.

The plot focuses on Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student with a cursed gift: he has the ability to see evil spirits (yokai and ayakashi). In addition, these spirits are invisible to others and have a strong attachment to him. One day, he stumbles upon a shop that grants wishes. He meets a mysterious witch named Ichihara Yuuko, and requests to have his ability to see spirits removed. She claims to have the means to end his torment, but she never works for free. The price, according to Yuko, must be of equal value. Therefore, as payment, he temporarily becomes Yuko's part-time employee, doing small errands and household chores.

Meanwhile, Himawari Kunogi, Watanuki's love interest, and Shizuka Domeki, a classmate who Watanuki detests, occasionally join him in his work as per Yuko's request. The three become increasingly close despite Watanuki's annoyance with Dōomeki. Although Watanuki becomes happy with the new friendships he makes, he becomes concerned about Yuko, promising he will try to grant her wish. As the series continues, Watanuki becomes more adept with the spiritual world during each supernatural encounter.

Later in the show, there is a crossing plotline with the concurrent series, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. It is revealed that Yuko was accidentally frozen by a powerful wizard, Clow Reed. As the magic binding her immortality begins to fade, Yuko also loses her ability to maintain the shop's magical existence. Before she dies, she tells Watanuki that he will no longer have to see demons. However, he chooses to retain his ability with his now fully-grown magical powers and becomes the shop's new owner.

If you are a fan of the Japanese manga artist group, Clamp, xxxHOLic (pronounced "Holic") is a good supernatural anime to watch with its balance of light and dark moments. With a mixture of horror and comedy, the plot is very imaginative and mind-blowing. After the first season, the anime becomes inspiring, beautiful, and heartbreaking when Yuko's ultimate fate is revealed. The Clamp illustrations are memorable due to their striking designs: patterns built into the images, highly detailed hair, heavily stylized eyes, elongated limbs, and elaborate clothing. It may seem slow in the beginning, but it becomes entertaining after several episodes. I highly recommend the anime. It should be available to rent and buy on DVD.

Opening Song: "19sai" by Shikao Suga

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher, is the fourth novel in the Dresden Files series. Depressed and devastated over his girlfriend's newly acquired taste for blood in Grave Peril, Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in Chicago, has lost motivation and determination. He has alienated his friends and cannot pay his rent. Although he knows the truth on what happened that ill-fated night, both the vampires and wizards are looking for any reason to end his life.

Just when he thought things could not worsen, the Winter Queen of Faerie pays him a visit. She has an offer that Harry cannot refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold that his faerie godmother has over him. When he learns of a possible cure for his girlfriend's condition, he takes on the case. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen of Faerie's knight and clear the Winter Queen's name.

Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. But he needs the money and a major breakthrough to resurrect his reputation among the wizards. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.

Summer Knight was riveting action filled with suspense and fantasy. While this novel was less romantic than its predecessors, the plot was necessary to save Harry from his beleaguering depression. He was a desperate man looking for any opportunity to eliminate doubts among the wizards. While he has friends who believe in him, he also had many enemies who would have not mind trading him off to evil foes.

In order to understand Harry's suspicions, the faerie world in the The Dresden Files is dark and dangerous, unbeknownst to humans in the mortal world. Since this was his most dangerous case, Harry miraculously and courageously solved the murder of the summer knight. Although he loses a lead on the cure for his girlfriend's conditions, I have no doubt that he will find another option in future novels. This plot also gives me hope that Harry (with his strong sense of justice) will develop the strength to carry on and become the best investigator in the supernatural world.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files, Death Mask.