Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Thirst #3, The Eternal Dawn (2010)

Alisa has spent the past five thousand years as a vampire, living alone and fighting for survival. In her loneliness, Alisa cannot resist bringing Teri--a descendant of her human family--into her life. But Alisa is surrounded by death and destruction, and just by knowing Alisa, Teri's life is at risk...

Thirst No. 3: The Eternal Dawn, by Christopher Pike, is the seventh novel in the Last Vampire series. While all the events in the previous books did indeed happen, there is a twist: Seymonr had connected to Sita' mind during the time of her adventures and experienced everything that happened with her. Her adventures became the basis of Seymour's novels. While his book ending has Sita returning to past as a human, she actually returns to the present as a vampire after defeating Landulf in the sixth novel. Fast forward 15 years later, Seymour finally meets Sita in person.

Sita encounters one of her long-lost human descendants, Teri (Teresa) Raine, a track-and-field college athlete. Sita knows that she should not get close to her Teri because anyone who becomes close ends up dead. However, Sita feels a connection with Teri. Knowing Teri leads to Matt, Teri's boyfriend. Matt is another mystery that Sita cannot figure out. Nonetheless, Sita will do everything she can to help Teri reach her personal and professional goals.

Meanwhile, a covert organization knows about Sita's secret and will stop at nothing to use her powers for their cause. As Sita tries to protect herself and Teri from the dangerous unknown enemy, she discovers a force more powerful and lethal than she has ever seen in her 5,000 years of existence. Furthermore, an ancient race of immortals want to unleash a deadly virus with the potential to wipe out humanity. Sita travels with Matt to Europe to search for clues on the immortals. There is little time to waste. Sita doesn't know who to trust or how to face the challenges ahead of her.

Legendary thriller author Christopher Pike amazingly resurrects the story from where it left off from the original six-novel installment in The Last Vampire series. The renamed "Thirst" series (books 7-9) now includes three new additions: The Eternal Dawn, The Shadow of Death, and the Sacred Veil. Hardcore fans will be ecstatic to learn that Sita (also known as Alisa Perne) lives! Pike cleverly starts the book from the perspective of This time around, Sita faces unimaginable challenges that will test her sanity, endurance, and fears. 15 years from the end of the last book, Sita is alive and well. I find it so amazing how Pike pulls this feat off so smoothly. He kept all the rich elements that made the original installment successful in the 1990s.

Why do I keep reading this series? I love Sita's bravery, ability to act under pressure, and empathy for others. She is not perfect, and she makes tons of mistakes. She knows how to learn from her mistakes. That is what fans love about her. Pike dwells into deep themes like death, love, redemption, faith, and loss/grief, which will resonate well with his fan base, who are now be in their 30s. Pike sends a strong message of love and struggle in his novels. As Sita learns, life is such a precious thing to hold onto and appreciate.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Thirst series, The Shadow of Death.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6)

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 Ruby Circle, by Richelle Mead, is the last novel in the Bloodlines series. After their secret romance has been exposed to the world, Syndey and Adrian seek refuge as a newly married couple in the Moroi court under Lissa's protection. In the previous novel (Silver Shadows, the couple sought protection from the Alchemists, who were chasing them across the country for Sydney's escape from Re-Education. However, when the life of someone they love (Jill, the half-sister of the Moroi Queen) has been kidnapped, they must risk everything to hunt down a dangerous enemy from the past. Sydney uses all the powers she to unravel the mystery behind Jill's disappearance, and Adrian tries to support in every way possible.

Meanwhile, Adrian tries to help Nina locate her missing dhampir sister, who has fallen off the radar under mysterious circumstances. In the process, Adrian stumbles upon a shocking secret about the power of spirit magic, one that can shake up the entire Moroi world. The strong supporting cast (yes, folks, Rose and Dmitri have more prominent roles in this novel) journeys with Sydney and Adrian back to California where it all began in Bloodlines.

First, I want to say that I love Richelle Mead's writing style. I am a major fan of Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, and Age of X series. With that said, The Ruby Circle had its good and bad moments. The good moments tied up some plotlines (Adrian and Sydney are no longer wanted criminals and are a complete family with a baby -- how that happens is revealed in the novel). The bad moments include parts with no explanation or closure: anti-Strigoi vaccine, spirit magic's effects on dhampirs who were former Strigoi, the Jill/Eddie romance, and the Alchemist/Warriors connection. The novel felt rushed and did not provide enough closure on these bad moments. Will there be short stories (or another book series, maybe around Jill and Eddie?) in the future to tie up these loose ends? We don't know, but I hope Mead considers it. Bloodlines over time became a beloved series like Vampire Academy, yet the latter (The Last Promise) in my opinion had a better ending (I loved it so much that I still have a hardcover of TLP on my bookshelf).

Nonetheless, I am grateful that I started Bloodlines because it revealed a few surprises. It was amazing to see how Sydney Sage changed so much as a individual, from loyal Alchemist to her own person with magical powers. The Sydney in Vampire Academy would have never challenged authority or hang around Moroi/dhampirs, let alone marry one! Yet, that is what she did as she began to gradually unravel the truth of the Alchemists. I admire her determination, resolve, and intellect change the system so that she can pursue her own dreams and happiness. That is the biggest takeaway from Bloodlines: Don't conform to the status quo. Don't be afraid to explore the unknown. Most importantly, follow your heart.

Stay tuned for more updates on future novels by Richelle Mead. I don't believe this is the last novel we will hear about Sydney, Adrian, Rose, and Dmitri!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Blood Games (Chicagoland Vampires #10)

While Merit didn't choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she's managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago...Vampires and humans aren't on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

Blood Games, by Chloe Neill, is the tenth novel in the Chicagoland Vampires series. Cadogan House Master, Ethan, faces a new challenge -- he's willing to compete for the leadership position at the Greenwich Presidium (council of ruling vampires in Europe and North America). While he waits for a response, Ethan learns that someone isn't pleased with his decision and sends a message to rescind his challenge. Ethan’s unwillingness to open up to Merit about who the blackmailer is and what he or she is holding over his head causes friction between them. Merit becomes anxious about her role in the relationship when an old nemesis returns from the past returns to haunt Ethan. With this golden opportunity to reform the Greenwich Presidium, Merit supports Ethan's decision as both his Sentinel of Cadogan House and as his romantic partner (immortal lover).

To make matters worse, Darius is not himself when Ethan and Merit discover he has been magically hypnotized by an unknown power. Why is Darius making clandestine visits to the states and transferring money to a Swiss bank account? Finally, a killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving the victims' bodies behind as magical souvenirs. The Chicago Police Department has not been able to identify the assailant, but clues at the crime scenes point to a vampire attack. As the body count rises, the police are running out of options. Merit and her friends must solve the murders before the city turns on them.

Blood Games picks up right from the previous novel when Ethan, master of Cadogan House, challenged Darius for the leadership of the Greenwich Presidium (literally the council of ruling vampires in Europe and North America). While Ethan is waiting for a response, he learns that someone from the past is not happy with his decision. As threats from an unknown enemy against Cadogan House continue to grow, Ethan's unwillingness to open up with Merit about his blackmailer puts a strain on their relationship. This novel is not your typical fairy tale. Ethan and Merit have their arguments, but the sizzling sex makes up for their endless drama.

This book wouldn't be complete without a mysterious case. When dead bodies turn up in ritualistic poses in her city, Merit is determined to get to the bottom of it. She helps her grandfather, Catcher, and the Chicago police solve a set of murders someone is trying to pin on the supernatural community. With each case, Merit is adjusting and growing more comfortable in her skin as a vampire and Sentinel. Furthermore, each challenge makes her a better girlfriend/partner for Ethan than before. Overall, this was a solid novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series. It comes with an surprising ending that I won't spoil -- Chloe Neill leaves cleverly leaves readers wanting more. What's not to like about vampires, shifters, and witches? I highly recommend this series.

Stay tuned for the eleventh novel in the Chicagoland Vampires novels, Dark Debt.