Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)

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.

Silver Shadows, by Richelle Mead, is the fifth novel in the Bloodline series. In the previous novel (The Fiery Heart), Sydney risked everything to follow her instincts, walking a dangerous line to keep her romantic feelings for Adriana--a royal Moroi vampire--hidden from the Alchemists. Now separated away from everyone she loved, Sydney struggles to figure out how to survive psychologically and physically in an underground Alchemist re-education center. For Adrian, he must figure out how to keep sober and rescue Sydney. But first, he needs a strategic plan and some allies to break her out of her prison cell.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

I loved this book! I finished it in two days (literally). Mead beautifully described the budding (and forbidden) relationship between the two and how both grapple with their new realities separated from each other. Sydney experienced torture and fear in the re-education center, and learned the true face of the Alchemists, an organization she swore to serve. With her magical abilities, she makes the decision to defect from the ALchemists for good. Meanwhile, Adrian comes to terms with the realization that he cannot imagine a life without Sydney and will break away from Moroi traditions to follow his heart. There are also cameo appearances by Lissa, Rose, and Dmitri who sympathize with Adrian's position. The story was mesmerizing and engaging, a trait that I love about Mead. There was never a dull moment, and I hope that Adrian and Sydney find happiness despite whatever dangers lurk ahead for them. The Alchemists want Sydney back and the Moroi Court look down upon human mates -- can Adrian protect Sydney from the overwhelming odds stacked against them? I look forward to the next novel, which has a publication release date of February 2015.

Stay tuned for the final installment of the Bloodlines series, The Ruby Circle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Ghost Stories (2000-2001) Stories (2000-2001) is a children's supernatural anime. It has 20 episodes and takes place in contemporary Japan.

The story begins when Satsuki and her younger brother, Keichirou, move back to their deceased mother's hometown. ON their first day of school, they meet three other kids (Haijime, their neighbor, Momoko, an older schoolmate, and Leo, a classmate and friend of Hajime who has an interest in ghost-hunting) and visit the abandoned school building adjacent to their current school complex. Upon their discovery, the abandoned school house is haunted. When young Satsuki stumbles upon an old book of spells from her deceased mother, she gains the power to fight ghosts and evil spirits that are haunting her new school. It was Satsuki's deceased mother who was responsible for sealing the ghosts inside a hill. However, a residential development project threatens to release them into the human world again. With the help of her friends and a possessed devil cat, she must protect everyone around her. While the devil cat, Amanojaku, does not want to help Satsuki, the danger soon threatens the entire town and it is up to the group to stop the evil spirits.

This anime is good entertainment if you are interested in ghosts. The encounters with spirits will scare you. It has that nostalgic "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" feeling too. This anime is available to buy on DVD in Japanese and English dubbed versions. The dubbed version would be rated MA or R for use of adult references in American popular culture (I think the producers were aiming for an adult audiences). This anime is not appropriate for children.

Opening Theme: "Grow Up" by Hysteric Blue

Ending Theme: "Sexy Sexy" by Cascade

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness, is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. Historian and weaver witch, Diana Bishop, and vampire scientist and de Clermont family assassin, Matthew Clairmont, return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Sept-Tours (France), they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches with one significant exception. In addition, Diana returns to the present as a pregnant mother-to-be with twins! The search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency as new threats emerge. The safety of the twins is of utmost importance as Diana and Matthew struggle with ancient traditions and a dangerous nemesis from the past who desires nothing but revenge and destruction.

In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

I really enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy series. Although I was never a fan of British literature, Deborah Harkness brilliantly combined old prose and modern language that introduced readers to the world of Diana Bishop, a spellbound witch-turned-professor who stumbles upon the world of the supernatural, time-travel, and eventually her true calling. Although her stubborn personality sometimes annoyed me to the point of headaches, I could sympathize with her position. She was walking down a path with risks and unknown future. Readers will be overjoyed and surprised to learn the secrets of Ashmole 782 (I would have never imagined the outcome to turn out the way it did but it fits the plot). There is a strong theme of interracial marriage throughout the book and how people prevented such relationships due to fear and ignorance of the unknown. A basic knowledge of early modern European history (roughly 1500s to 1800s), especially the Elizabethan English era, is also highly recommended to understand the jargon and appreciate the symbolism throughout the books. Finally, I hope that this book trilogy becomes a film franchise. As long as it stays true to the book, it has the pieces to become a successful hit like The Hunger Games and Divergent. For more information about the All Souls Trilogy, please visit Harkness' official website. I cannot overstate this enough -- this is a fantastic series and start from where it all began in A Discovery of Witches!