Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2)

A immortal war has been brewing in the darkness...and now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.

Vampire. What other creature exist that aren't supposed to be real?

Eternal Kiss of Darkness, by Jeaniene Frost, is the second novel in the Night Huntress World series. It immediately follows the life of Mencheres, an ancient Egyptian Master vampire, after Destined for an Early Grave. Kira Graceling, a Chicago private investigator, was walking home one late night when she heard the moans of pain from a person in distress inside a warehouse. With her strong sense of duty and justice, she called emergency operators and rushed to the person's rescue only to find out that the victim and his bullies are not human. Her world turns upside down when a nearly fatal injury leaves her unconscious in the warehouse.

When she awakens, she is stunned that she is not dead. Her stomach wound also miraculously healed, leaving no scar in sight. Meanwhile, Mencheres thought he had seen it all. He couldn't believe a beautiful, fearless human would risk her life to rescue him. He also cannot read her thoughts nor does he want to send her away. He can barely control his passion and sexual urges around her, but he does not want to trap her in his world any longer.

However, the darkness continues to grow inside him as his greatest foe is bent on destroying him. After being framed for murders he did not cause, Mencheres have little time left before the Guardian Council decide his fate. He must choose his decision wisely: embrace an eternal life with Kira or face eternal destruction.

Frost provides a rare treat with this timely background story. Mencheres, a 4,000-plus Master vampire who thought he had seen it all. He had saved countless lives over the centuries with his visions and incredible super strength. His knowledge of the dark arts (black magic) were also an envy among many vampires. Although he is a main character in the Night Huntress series, I never understood him at a deep level. Now, I realize why he felt his time on earth was coming to an end. I am also grateful that Kira (whose name means "darkness") appeared just in time to provide the spark he desperately needed to save his soul from eternal damnation.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Night Huntress series, The Other Side of the Grave.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: Ryoko's Case File (2008)

Ryoko's Case File ~Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo~ (2008) is a Japanese supernatural detective series. It is based on a series of light novels written by Tana Yoshiki. It contains 13 episodes.

The story revolves around Ryōko Yakushiji, a brilliant and beautiful superintendent with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. With her mild-mannered subordinate, Junichirō Izumida, the pair investigate seemingly paranormal or supernatural events in criminal cases. As Izumida quickly realizes, Ryoko solves the city's most terrible crimes in her own way. In addition, it seems that otherworldy beings are attracted to Ryoko's presence for unknown reasons.

Ryōko also has a longstanding rivalry with Yukiko Muromachi, another talented investigator from her cohort. In later episodes, she seeks the assistance of JACES security forces personnel and her French personal maids, Lucienne and Marianne, to solve cases before they get out of hand. With tongue-in-cheek comedy that combines science fiction and the police-inspired theme, Ryoko will always fight her way towards justice.

The concept behind Ryoko's characterization was appealing. Ryoko (whom I will refer to as "hot-headed") is stubborn, sassy, and reckless, whereas Izumida ("cold-headed") is logical, reserved, and accomodating. Despite their polar opposite personalities, they work well together as partners. There are some moments of romance (although the feeling is one-sided), but it is never fully developed in the show as it should have. My only criticism is the use of the French maids. Their phrases came across as so tacky that it did not add much relevance to the animation series. The show would have been fine if the maids were Japanese nationals. Furthermore, I wish the show had explored Ryoko's background (why the French theme? why does she have feelings for Izumida? why her fashion obsession?), but there is only so much the producers and screenwriters can tell within 13 episodes. While the episodic adventures were interesting at times, time would have been better spent on developing an evolving arc that explains why Ryoko attracts otherworldly beings around her. The soundtrack music is also upbeat and lovely to listen. Overall, this was a good show to watch on a rainy (i.e., boring) day.

Opening Theme: "Thème Principal" by KATS

Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2)

Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown.

Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness, is the second novel in the All Souls Trilogy. In the first novel (A Discovery of Witches), Diana Bishop, a Yale history scholar, discovers that she is a witch with extraordinary magical abilities. She is inexplicably and romantically drawn to Matthew Clairmount, a 1,500-year-old vampire geneticist. Both embark upon a timewalking journey to understand the secrets inside a lost and enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782, which may hold the origins of otherworldly beings--daemons, witches, and vampires.

Diana and Matthew travel back into the final years of Elizabethan London (1558–1603) with two goals: 1) to find the traces of Ashmole 782, and b) to locate a witch who can help Diana gain control of her spellbound powers. They find themselves plunged into a world of spies and subterfuge as well as Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night. However, their journey takes a drastic turn that pulls them closer into Matthew's darkest secrets and other unexpected dangers. Whatever actions they leave behind in the past will certainly impact the future.

When I finished the A Discovery of Witches, I enjoyed it so much that I had to obtain the Shadow of Night from my local library. English literature was never my favorite subject in high school, yet Harkness' writing style captivated me so much that I wanted to learn more about Elizabethan England. Diana and Matthew are a match made in heaven even though their love is forbidden. Readers will be pleased to learn that this book explores their ancestries. In the end, both become stronger individuals mentally-wise given what they encountered during their journey. Although this book is 575 pages, I never came across a dull moment. That's how much I enjoyed this series.

In the sixteenth century, monarchies (England, Spain, Portugal, France, etc.) were the dominant form of government in Europe. The Protestant Reformation had occurred, which was a huge blow for the Roman Catholic Church. The English were in the beginning stage of exploring North America. It had not established colonies in the present-day United States. You will also run across some famous names in the novel. I won't spoil it so you must see for yourself in this novel.

The All Souls trilogy has become so popular that it may become a film series! From the author's website:

Warner Brothers Pictures has secured the film rights to the All Souls Trilogy. Work is currently underway to adapt the first book, A Discovery of Witches, for the screen. Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan are producing the film. Playwright David Auburn, who has received both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, has been hired to write the screenplay.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the trilogy, The Book of Life
. It will be released on July 14, 2014!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the wordls of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets--and human lives.

The Indigo Spell, by Richelle Mead, is the third novel in the Bloodlines series. Once Adrian Ivashkov confessed his true feelings for Sydney Sage, it literally rocked her world. She then struggles to draw a boundary between her Alchemist teachings (which forbidden romance between humans and vampires) and what her heart truly desires (relationship with Adrian). Both have great chemistry together, but rules are rules. Her time in Palm Springs is supposed to be a mission as a undercover high school student to protect Jill Dragomir, a Moroi princess.

In the novel, she finally tracks down the elusive and mysterious Marcus Finch, an ex-Alchemist who the organization denies exist and lives in the shadows on the run. With a handsome smile, he is hard to resist in public among the ladies. He encourages Sydney to break her golden lily tattoo so that she is no longer under their control. With his help, Sydney finally realizes that the organization whom she has been most loyal to her entire life has been hiding secrets from her. What should Sydney choose: run away with Marcus and his Merry Men, or continue to search for the truth on her own terms?

Meanwhile, Sydney must tap her growing magical powers to track down an evil magic user who is targeting unaware young witches. Alchemists shun the use of magic, but she must use her knowledge to protect others and herself. Finding her own identity is much harder than she ever imagined. By following her heart instead of her brain, she may be able to finally figure out where she belongs. Unfortunately, life becomes more complicated when the help she seeks involves her own kin...

The plot keeps getting better and better. Sydney has matured so much from her staunch Alchemist ways in the latter half of the Vampire Academy series. She has become more at ease around dhampirs and Moroi, something that she never thought would be possible. She is also questioning her Alchemist teachings as she becomes more in tune with her witchcraft powers. At her age of eighteen, Sydney is finally starting to rebel against what she thought was sacrosanct and therefore undeniably right. She realizes that she must become her own individual by fighting for what she believes is right. No more hidden secrets or running away from her heart.

Since this is the series' midway point(Bloodlines will have a total of six novels), I can't wait to see how Sydney uncovers the truth about the Alchemists and faces her greatest challenges. Overall, I love this non-conformist side of her because she is using her intellect to scrutinize established norms and beliefs. With her growing magical powers, she will be quite a fighter. Stay tuned for the next Bloodlines novel, The Fiery Heart.