Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: One Grave at a Time (Night Huntress #6)

How do you send a killer to the grave when he's already dead?

One Grave at a Time, by Jeaniene Frost, is the sixth novel in the Night Huntress series. From the back cover:

Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans' voodoo queen just keeps on giving-leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.

Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity---forever. But one wrong step and they'll be digging hteir own graves.
One Grave at a Time is Frost' best masterpiece in the series. When I thought this series was getting dull, Frost picked up the pace with the introduction of the hardest foe to defeat: a spirit who is already dead but torments innocent mortals every year. Cat and Bones are determined to finish this case, but they can't use the usual weapons (silver and stakes). They must rely on wit, strategy, and the assistance of a medium to defeat this terrifying menace. I loved reading every bit of the plot, its twists and surprises. This was a refreshing change that got me rooting for Cat and Bones again.

Sadly, I am not looking forward to the last book in the series. What makes the Night Huntress series so fun to read are the characters (and their idiosyncrasies), their pasts, and chemistry together. Night Huntress is one of the best adult vampire series out there if you desire mystery, humor, and action in the mix. Nevertheless, this novel increased my interest in the series again and I can't wait to see what Frost has in sore for her loyal fans.

Stay tuned for the last novel in the Night Huntress series, Up from the Grave.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Attack on Titan ~Shingeki no Kyojin~ (2013)

Attack on Titan ~Shingeki no Kyojin~ (2013) is a Japanese fantasy anime that takes place in medieval Europe. It contains 26 episodes + one special episode. The animated series is based on the popular manga by the same tile illustrated and written by Hajime Isayama.

Set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls due to the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures who devour humans seemingly without reason. The story centers around Eren Jaeger and his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackerman, whose lives are changed forever after the appearance of a colossal titan brings about the destruction of their home and the death of their mother. Vowing revenge and to reclaim the world from the Titans, Eren and Mikasa join the Recon Corps, an elite group of soldiers who fight Titans outside the walls.

This is a story about mankind's survival and its refusal to die out, even against colossal odds against its unfathomable foe -- Titans (man-eating giants). The last of humanity live within the safety of the 3 walls, protected from the horrors of the outside world - the Titans. Horrendous monsters with an appetite for human flesh, the walls have held them at bay for 100 years and little is expected to change. But change comes in a big way and the walls are no longer enough to protect humanity. Eren, Armin, and Mikasa wittiness terrible horrors on that day and vow to join the Survey Corp (literally the front-line soldiers) and but an end to the Titan menace once and for all...

Attack on Titan was so epic that it was literally the best anime that came out in 2013. In case you're wondering why I have been writing fewer anime reviews lately, the reason is because Japan has not produced ground-breaking quality anime for adults in a long time. Therefore, this show's premiere was highly anticipated because it represented a type of work that fans have desired since Claymore. It brilliantly mixes elements of post-apocalyptic, medieval fantasy, and revenge, forming your classic 'hero versus monster' story. The voice acting is very well done, and I cannot say enough good things about the soundtrack (the music captures the emotions and scenery of the story's medieval background). Moreover, I am grateful that they had the audacity to put the series on hiatus while the manga continues, rather than giving us endless episodes of filler, that nobody really wants to see. I hope that a sequel continues two years from now at least. Fans would love for a sequel to continue the truth behind Armin's abilities and the secrets of the Titans.

I am not sure when the DVD will become available, but I provide a direct link to the Amazon page so that viewers can access it. I highly recommend the soundtrack!

Opening Song #1: "Guren no Yumiya" (紅蓮の弓矢) by Linked Horizon (episodes 1-13)

Opening Song #2: "Jiyuu no Tsubasa" (自由の翼) by Linked Horizon (episodes 14-26)

Review: Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter #3)

An ancient and malevolent immortal is rising. The violent winds whisper her name: Caliane. She has returned to reclaim her son, Raphael. Only one thing stands in her way: Elena, the consort who must be destroyed...

Archangel's Consort is the third novel in the Guild Hunter series. Vampire hunter, Elena Deveraux, has become an immortal--an angel--whose glorious wings of night and day captivate the people of New York. She is also the lover (consort) of the lethally beautiful archangel, Raphael. As she has adjusted to her flying abilities, Elena awaits her archangel to return home to New York. However, their honeymoon is brief when an uncompromising new evil disturbs the peace.

A vampire has attacked an all-girls private school---the assault one of sheer, vicious madness--but it is only the first act. Rampant blood lust takes vampire after vampire, eventually affecting angels too. Raphael himself begins to show signs of an uncontrollable rage. Inexplicable weather patterns darken the city skyline and wreak havoc in other regions. Although Raphael wants to deny it, the omens are unfortunately clear--an ancient and powerful immortal of the Cadre is rising from their slumber. And she wants nothing more than to reunite with her son and rule what is rightfully hers...

Singh has become an exceptional writer as she portrays a captivating new world order where angels rule, vampires serve, and humans obey. I enjoy reading the romance between Elena and Raphael. Elena, who is still adjusting to her new life as angel, has made tremendous progress to the point that she can fly in the sky without assistance. Yet, she learns how to bridge both her former human life (still working as a Guild Hunter and learning the truth behind her hunter lineage) and new immortal life (becoming friends with angels and recognizing her foes). Singh ends the novel on a climactic note (the awakening of Raphael's mother!) that urges readers to read the next novel. I look forward to reading more novels in the Guild Hunter series, which is among the best out there on angels and vampires.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Guild Hunter series, Archangel's Blade.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)

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

The Fiery Heart, by Richelle Mead, is the fourth novel in the Bloodlines series. Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who swore to their values and way of life, has a change of heart. She makes a decision that even shocks her--to unravel the truth about their organization. Awakening. Love. Rebellion. The perfect Sydney who follows orders is on her way to becoming a rogue.

However, her struggle isn't over. Her life becomes more complicated when her younger sister, Zoe, arrives in Palm Springs. While Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there are too secrets that she must protect. Working with Marcus, a former Alchemist-turned-rogue, has changed the way she views the Alchemists. Moreover, she has the talent and potential to become a powerful witch.

Still, Sydney must tread carefully as she harnesses her magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Her secret relationship with Adrian, a royal Moroi to make matters worse, cannot be revealed to anyone. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure--and re-education--looms larger than ever.

I loved the direction that this book is heading! Sydney, who is eighteen, has come a long way from the vampires-are-sinful period in her life. Before Bloodlines, Sydney could not fathom being in the same room with a Moroi (vampire) or dhampir (half-vampire guardians with superhuman strength). Not only has she become less rigid and goody two-shoes (it's the best term to describe her old behavior), she is using her Alchemist training to forge a new path in her life that could save others and challenge old traditions. Just as I admired the tenacity of Rose in Vampire Academy, I am loving Sydney's bravery and wit in Bloodlines. Although I thought it was awful how she was caught (by dropping her guard, which ironically she most prized about herself), I look forward to her adventures (and battle against the Alchemists) in the summer of 2014! In the meantime, I wish the luck for Adrian, who must decide whether to succumb to his weaknesses or become the man that can save Sydney.

Remember -- Vampire Academy hits the movie screens on February 14, 2014!! (How symbolic that it falls on Valentine's Day!)

Stay tuned for the fifth novel in the Bloodlines series, Silver Shadows.