Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8)

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece...

Magic Shifts, by Ilona Andrews, is the eighth novel in the Kate Daniels series. Magic comes in unpredictable waves in post-shift Atlanta. Kate Daniels and former Beast Lord Curran have officially separated from the Pack. Kate has claimed Atlanta. Her father has become a scary being in the flesh that lurks in the background ready to intrude at any moment's notice. In the meantime, the couple are adjusting to a new life with a different pace. Though the Pack politics may become a distant memory, Kate is still determined, resourceful and assertive as ever to protect her family and carve a new chapter in her life.

While the couple are thrilled with the change of scenery (living in their own home with Julie), Curran misses the constant challenges of leading a pack of shape-shifters. A new opportunity arises when the Pack offers Curran its stake in the Mercenary Guild--who wants nothing to do with Kate or the Beast Lord. As a veteran merc, Kate takes over the Guild's unfinished jobs in order to build the reputation of her independent investigation agency. But what Kate and Curran don't realize is the Mercenary Guild is far from stable. Between fighting ghouls and searching for a missing shifter, a powerful ancient adversary appears and it is nothing like Kate has ever fought. It plans to destroy not only the Guild but the short break that Kate and Curran have built as well. This challenge forces Kate to face her own innermost fears before it devours her soul.

The Andrews delivered another spectacular addition to the Kate Daniels series. They find new ways to stimulate readers with the otherworld-building and new challenges that makes Kate both stronger and wiser in the end. It marks as a transition of sorts--Kate and Curran have left the Pack. In this hovel, readers are introduced to ghouls, who are persons caught between the living and the dead. They have rational thought but still rely on human flesh to survive. The use of Arabic mythology was also intriguing to say the least. There was a moment during the final battle that I did not think Kate was going to survive as usual--I was on the edge wondering how will Kate overcome this monstrosity. As usual, I enjoyed the humor and spontaneity that Kate portrays even when she constantly faces life-or-death situations. I will continue to root for Kate and Curran because they make the best urban fantasy couple. I highly recommend this book.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Binds.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review: The Hanged Man (2015, Her Majesty's Psychic Service #1)

The Hanged Man, by P.N. Elrod, is the first book in the new gaslight paranormal fantasy series that takes place in Victorian London. The novel begins on a cold and dreary Christmas Eve in 1879. A forensic psychic is summoned from her home to the scene of a questionable death at a house on Baker Street. A man has hung himself, but by using her abilities to pick up on emotional traces left behind, Alex is able to rule out a suicide. Alexandrina (Alex) Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother--Victoria, Queen of England) is confident that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed. they find the evidence that someone broke into the house, drugged the hapless victim and strung him up to make it look like he killed himself. What’s even more disturbing to Alex is the lack of emotional signature from the perpetrator. Whoever (or whatever) committed this murder, they did it without feeling anything at all.

Then the identity of the hanged man is revealed and Alex’s world comes crashing down around her. This opens up a whole new set of questions, deeply personal ones that fill her with doubt as she struggles to keep her mind on the investigation. Her superiors remove her from the case, but Alex is determined to follow up on leads even if it means setting out on her own. Luckily, she’s not completely alone; newly recruited Lieutenant Brooks maybe new to magic but he is supportive of Alex in this investigation. Then there is the mysterious and enigmatic Lord Richard Desmond who seems to know more a lot of detail about Alex's background. There are assassins and dark magic afoot, and both Scotland Yard and the Psychic Service are going to need all the help they can get. Alex must uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

P.N. Elrod is back in action! After I read the entire Vampire Files and Jonathan Barret: Gentleman Vampire series in my undergraduate years, I learned about this new surprising series from her website. It is different from her other book series but I am starting to like the gaslight fantasy genre. Elrod is a great, meticulous writer who can take her readers into the time period that she is writing (whether it's 1930s Chicago or 1870s London, she has done her homework on the culture of the characters and background setting!) I truly felt the mystery and magic unfold in this plot---I was constantly on the edge of my seat throughout the story (from carriage-racing horses to family betrayal and loss). Alex and Lieutenant Brooks have a promising working (and romantic) relationship together. I love how Alex is a brave and smart protagonist who can defend herself in an era where the cult of true womanhood was at its height. Alex skips the domestic sphere and creates a professional career that employs her empathic skills to good use--investigating unsolved mysteries with magical element in the streets of London. I want to know more about the secrets and organization of the Her Majesty's Psychic Service, the difference between seers and precogs, and the occult organization that Alex stumbles upon in solving the mysterious murder. With its blend of mystery, historical, romance, and fantasy, this novel will delight fans and newcomers to the world of Elrod. Watch out Sherlock Holmes, there is a new investigator in town with an empathic touch. I can't wait to read the next novel in this delightful series.

Stay tuned for future updates on this great addition to the gaslight fantasy genre.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Review: The Selection, The Elite, and The One (Books #1-3)

This is a review of the first books in the dystopian young adult series, The Selection by Kiera Cass. First premiering in 2012, these books focus on the budding romance between America Singer (17 years old), a gifted if temperamental level five commoner from Carolina, and Maxon Scheave (19 years old), prince of Illea.

35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime.
The Selection is the first novel in the Selection series. In a far out future, the United States no longer exist. After gaining independence from a foreign nation, North America has been renamed as Illea, after its founder who established a monarchy as the form of government. People are born into a status (Levels 1-8) -- the higher the number, wider of career options (and wealth). Level 1 is the royalty (Illea's descendants). Levels 2-3 are the upper class. Levels 4-5 are the middle class. Families in levels 6-7 tend to be servants ("working poor") to the higher classes. Level 8 are the outcasts living in poverty. Some people do not like the current status system, which is why rebellions have occurred more frequently and violently.

When the prince enters adulthood, the palace hosts a televised contest called the Selection (think the Bachelor for teens) where 35 girls selected from a pool of candidates have the opportunity to escape a life laid out to them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

35 girls came to the palace. Only six remain.
The Elite is the second novel in the Selection series. The Selection began with 35 girls. Now the group has narrowed down to the six Elite, and the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever. America Singer has grown accustomed to the palace, but she still struggles over the decision on where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen? While America feels conflicted, the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want. America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

35 girls entered the Selection. Only one can win.
The One is the third novel in the Selection series. The time has come for one winner to be crowned. When America Singer was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

I stumbled upon this book series while I was browsing my local Barnes and Noble Booksellers store. I had never heard of this author but I saw positive reviews for this young adult series. Curiosity won over, and I rented the book from my local library. I was deeply engrossed in these books! I love the protagonist, America Singer. She symbolically represents a true American Girl: kind, humble, altruistic, intelligent, creative, attentive, confident, brave, witty, and visionary. She spoke from the heart and followed her intuition. The color of the covers also hint the colors of the American flag (blue, red and white). I cheered for America even though her fear to let go of her past and embrace a once-in-a-lifetime future was daunting to read! I wanted her to make up her mind and admit her true feelings. It is so easy for teen girls to not want to take risks they may regret later but America Singer finally became forthright when she had nothing left to lose. America knew from hear heart whom she loved more. I am so happy that she found her happiness because she deserved it based on her actions during the Selection. I also learned from this series to be strong and courageous in the face of uncertainty. I enjoyed reading this series so far that I purchased the companion, Happily Ever After, which contains all the novellas!

Stay tuned for the next book in the Selection series, The Heir.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review: Dark Debt and Midnight Marked (Chicagoland Vampires #11-12)

A vampire never gets old. But neither do his enemies.

Dark Debt, by Chloe Neill, is the eleventh novel in the Chicagoland Vampires series. Cadogan House has officially become independent of the Greenwich Council and established a new vampire organization in North America--the American Association of Vampires. Merit, Sentinel of Cadogan House, has her hands full making society appearances and protecting the House Master and lover, Ethan Sullivan. However, when an old friend from Ethan's dark past reappears in a provocative debut in Chicago, she does not know whether to treat this mysterious vampire, Balthasar--Ethan's Maker, as a friend or foe.

But the trouble doesn't end there. Morgan Greer, House Master of Navarre House, needs help with paying a serious debt. Worse, this debt is tied to The Triad, a Chicago crime syndicate with grand ambitions for power and control--both human and supernatural. The Triad's connections run deeper than anything Merit experienced. Both Merit and Ethan must race against the clock to figure out what Balthasar is plotting before they lose each other forever.

A vampire's grudges don't stay dead long...

Midnight Marked, by Chloe Neill, is the twelfth novel in the Chicagoland Vampires series. The Triad has grown restless and more powerful. Merit made an enemy with the Chicago crime syndicate who will stop at nothing to defeat her. When their last plan is thwarted, the Triad has declared war on Cadogan House. Ethan has alerted the other Houses to stay on high alert, but their enemy won't stop at nothing until it gets what it wants.

In this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are life or death. Even family are not safe in this war. Merit and Ethan must determine who is the mastermind behind the Triad before the Windy City goes under its evil supernatural influence.

Chloe Neill scores with these back-to-back, action-packed novels. Merit and Ethan face powerful enemies from the past and present to protect Cadogan and Chicago from the brink of destruction. Merit has grown extremely well into her role as Sentinel of Cadogan House. Readers would forget that just a year ago she was a 28-year-old doctoral student in English Literature at the University of Chicago. Her transformation into a fiery, sword-wielding guardian is amazing in its own way. I continue to love this series even when I no longer live in Chicago (the Northeast is currently my residence). It is enjoyable to relive the Chicago references in my imagination. Merit is a character that has grown on me--even given me determination and confidence. I have become a warrior fighting injustice in my own way. For that reason, I cannot wait to read the next Chicagoland Vampire novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Chicagoland Vampires series, Blade Bound.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sailor Moon Crystal Instrumental Music

The third season of Sailor Moon Crystal (2016) concluded last month. I have been a major Sailor Moon fan since its first debut in the 1990s. I loved the magic girl element, good vs. evil plot, and romance. I must say the original soundtrack has exceeded my expectations, especially the first album. I love the instrumental selections -- they fit the mood (tragedy, determination, and the power of love) of Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion very well. In the meantime, I want to share my favorite soundtrack music from the first three seasons. A review of Sailor Moon Crystal is forthcoming.

Love Happens Again ~Ai no Futataki~

A Prayer to the Moon ~Tsuki no Inori wo~

Eternal Eternity (Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus / Ending Song)

Only Eternity Ties Us Together (Tuxedo Mask / Ending Song)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Review: The Glittering Court (Book #1)

The Glittering Court, by Richelle Mead, is a new young adult series. For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. Elizabeth Ruthford, the Countess of Witmore, is from a wealthy family in Osfrid who faces the possibility of a loveless arranged marriage. After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Elizabeth poses as her former servant, Adelaide, to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies in the Glittering Court. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself--even though she’s falling in love with him.

Everything begins to crumble when Adelaide catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else's property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

What a wonderful new series by internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, Richelle Mead! Initially, I was hesitant to pick up this book because it received mixed reviews by readers. The Glittering Court deviates from her previous book series that included supernatural elements. This book fits the romance category but it felt very enchanting! The plot also reminded me of the romantic children's film, Anastasia (1997). Dmitri, a handsome man from humble background, grooms Anya into a respectable princess only to fall in love with her as they become close and miss each other's presence. Anya makes the decision to abandon her royal past and live a life with the man she loves. If you loved Anastasia, you will love The Glittering Court!

I read this book three times (!) because I loved how Cedric and Adelaide (Elizabeth) overcame life-changing obstacles, hidden secrets with major consequences, and rigid social customs to make their relationship work. It shows that love can conquer anything. I am very surprised that Adelaide took a risk to abandon her old life to pursue her own journey of freedom and true love in the New World! She took control of her own life so that she could be happy with herself and not live to impress someone else. Most importantly, her personality resembles mine--assertive, compassionate, inquisitive, and creative. If this is a new series, I cannot wait to read the next book--I love this couple!

Stay tuned for the next novel in The Glittering Court series, Midnight Jewel.

Review: Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as "a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herslf." Now she's back, and she'll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it's the children who suffer..."

Fire Touched, by Patricia Briggs, is the ninth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Tensions are growing between the fae and human communities. Fae who once lived in the human world have resettled on reservations in North America. Nonetheless, trouble is always present around coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam. A rampaging troll nearly becomes too much for the werewolves to handle until a mysterious child rescues them.

Mercy and Adam found themselves in a bind when they learn this child is a chanegeling--a human with fae-like powers--with a special secret. He is fired-touched (gifted with the power of fire) and fae would love to get their hands on him. Mercy and Adam and the pack promise to protect the child no matter the cost. In the meantime, they must forestall an out-and-out war with the fae.

Briggs delivered another masterpiece in Fire Touched. Mercy Thompson has certainly grown into her full potential as a coyote shapeshifter and mate to an alpha wolf--Adam and Mercy were made for each other. She feels more confident in her own skin and knows how to stick to her personal convictions. She stands her ground which is what I like about her personality. Whether a child is involved in fae politics or a werewolf is considering suicide, Mercy courageously handles the situation with compassion and determination. She takes on dangerous challenges that seem impossible yet she prevails in miraculous ways. Each scenario makes Mercy grow wiser and braver with age. I cannot wait to read the next novel in the series. Stay tuned for further updates. 

[Updated February 2019] The next novel in the Mercy Thompson series is Silence Fallen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Thirst #4, The Shadow of Death (2011)

With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul..

The Shadow of Death, by Christopher Pike, is the fourth novel in the Thirst ~ The Last Vampire ~ series. The plot follows Alisa Perne, a 5000 year old, vampire, who is strong and more cunning than her adversaries. She escaped death only to find herself trapped in a newborn vampire body--her descendant, Teresa "Teri" Raine, who was shot through the heart with an advanced laser weapon. Two weeks later, Alisa attends her own funeral to inform Seymour that she is not really Teri, but Sita (her original birth name in India).

Despite the reunion, time is not on her side to control her bloodthirsty thirst. when an old race of immortals appears--the Telar. This immortal race from ancient Egypt is threatening to release a virus that would decimate humanity. Only they have the vaccine.

Only Alisa and her friends can take down this serious threat. With limited odds, they must turn to a mysterious organization for assistance--the IIC. However, the IIC has its own secrets and ulterior motive that will shock Alisa. The IIC has a powerful weapon, the Array--a group of psychic children and teens--that enables them to overpower a targeted person's mind and force them to commit acts against their will. The Array is the only group who can destroy the Source, the leaders of the Telar. Alisa will face the toughest battle in her long life to protect her friends and the planet itself.

This was an epic novel! I was rooting for Alisa/Sita the entire journey as she had to battle multiple enemies--the Telar, the Array/Cradle, and her own inner demons. First, she reclaims her original body (which is more powerful and stable with the thirst) and learns the truth about Umara's past and her son, Matt. She must also deceptively get the Array/Cradle to fight another powerful enemy while she plots to destroy the IIC from within. Various scenes reminded me of classic films like Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned. That's how creepy and powerful these children and teens are in the Cradle. They can use their minds to collectively destroy targets from afar. That is some crazy power! Alisa and her friends had to play top-level chess--and it prevailed!

Stay tuned for the last novel in the Thirst series, Thirst No. 5: The Sacred Veil.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review: Skin Game (Dresden Files #15)

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day ... Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it's something awful. He doesn't know the half of it ..."

Skin Games, by Jim Butcher, is the fifteenth installment in the Dresden Files series. Mab, Winter Queen of Air and Darkness, has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard and Winter Knight, never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. He must help a group of supernatural villains—-led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone-—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access to a vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover (literally) the Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world. There is one problem--the vault belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess-—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance...

Poor Harry. He certainly got himself in a jam as Mab's Winter Knight. He never knows what she is plotting and he usually has to go into survival mode when the missions turn ugly. Since Changes, the series has turned a rather dark, apocalyptic turn. Harry has changed and so have the people he cared for. As he has become a more experienced wizard, now he must face his deepest fears--things he didn't want to talk about but they got thrown into his face anyways. It is part of his personal development. It is the reason why he does what he does--helping others at little or no gain to himself--because he abused his power once. He is terrified of doing it again, and of the monster that he could very easily become, particularly as the Winter Knight. If Harry has a destiny to fulfill, he must conquer the darkness within himself. This is the overarching theme that I took away from Skin Game.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files, Peace Talks.

Review: Grave Visions (Grave Witch #4)

Fae can’t survive without a tie to Faerie, and now that Alex’s true nature has awoken, she’s no exception. She must align herself to a court and soon. To retain as much freedom as possible, she makes a deal to track the source of a new glamour-infused street drug which causes hallucinations that kill—and not just the user. Her investigation entangles Alex in a conflict brewing in Faerie, and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep that she loses not only her freedom, but her life.

Grave Visions, by Kaylana Price, is the fourth novel in the Grave Witch series. Alex Craft is a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary power and specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. She has another secret that was hidden from her until now--she is fae. Fighting to maintain her independence in the human realm, Alex must choose a court affiliation before her time runs out. Her fae heritage is wreaking havoc for her friends in the human and Faerie realms. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that is causing mysterious, inexplicable deaths.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. This new street drug is from Faerie but is winding itself in the hands of its human victims. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in Faerie that is causing dysfunction and fear among the fae. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she's dragged so deep she loses her freedom permanently.

After a somewhat excruciating two-year hiatus, Price returns with the latest novel on the life of Alex Craft. I loved the first three novels in the series, especially the heart-breaking moment when Alex realizes Falin was not whom appeared to be. Trying to move on from that relationship, Alex is gradually rebuilding her life after discovering that she has fae heritage. She has to choose a court affiliation which goes against her free-spirited nature. She does not have much time because her friends' livelihood (some whom are also fae) are dependent on her actions. Using her grave magic and investigative skills, Alex endures dangerous situations to identify the person responsible for the illicit street dug. Stay tuned for the next novel in the Grave Witch series, Grave Ransom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Bound by Flames (Night Prince #3)

Vlad and his newly turned bride, Leila, are at odds with each other--and vulnerable to the one vampire powerful enough to end the Dark Prince's reign ...

Bound by Flames, by Jeaniene Frost, is the third novel in the Night Prince series. Leila, a human with an gift to absorb electricity and read visions, spent most of her adult years on the carnival circuit. What her experience had not taught her was her new life as a vampire or, more surprisingly, how to be married to the most famous 500-year-old vampire of all, Vlad Dracul (also known as Dracula). Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, but the real battle is about to begin with an old nemesis returns with a vengeance.

Vlad must battle an enemy with a centuries-old grudge and whose influence that spans across continents. One tiny mistake can mean the difference between life and death. When Vlad's people are attacked on his home turf and turned on each other due to mysterious magic, Vlad must think carefully and strategically. It isn't like Vlad to feel fear, but he does for Leia when she is kidnapped by the enemy. As friend and foe align against him, Vlad's love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both ...

Bound by Flames is another excellent addition to the Night Huntress World series with special attention to Vlad. Readers will see Vlad in his most vulnerable state when he almost loses his composure when Leila is kidnapped by an ancient foe. With secrecy on her whereabouts, Vlad must rely on his friends to help end this battle Bones and Cat make brief cameo appearances when Vlad needs Cat's assistance in necromancy to rescue Leila. The rescue mission is not easy when Vlad and Leila must make dangerous decisions that could lead to end of each other. While Vlad may had lost his childhood home in the battle, he can always rebuild a new home with his new bride by his side.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Night Prince series, Into the Fire.

Review: Dreamwalker (Stormwalker #5)

The dreams, though, call her back, more vivid than ever. Janet's past and present merge and then split, trying to pull her into a strange reality that threatens to tear her apart.

Dreamwalker, by Allyson James, is the fifth novel in the Stormwalker series. Life is normal and quiet for stormwalker Janet Begay at her Crossroads Hotel, where the paranormal is normal, until she discovers Emmett Smith, the most powerful mage in the world, is on her trail. He intends to steal Janet's magic mirror. Janet already has her hands full trying to keep her sister, Gabrielle, under control. Both sisters share their mother's gift--powerful and wild Beneath magic.

Weird creatures suddenly show up at Barry's biker bar. Mick, her dragon fiance, and Janet encounter the demons. When Janet is knocked out fighting the creatures, she wakes up seemingly in the past when she first met Mick and traveled across the country on this motorcycle. Alone and free, the dream feels so real that Janet begins to forget about the future. She is yanked free from her dream when present circumstances need her attention.

The dreams, however, continue to call back to her. This time, they are more vivid than ever. Janet's past and present begin to merge. She has no idea what kind of magic is toying with her, but she will need all of her friends' help to defeat Emmett Smith. If he grabs his hands on the magic mirror, the world become vulnerable to the most evil of evils.

I was very much looking forward to this latest installment in the Stormwalker series. I enjoy James' vivid description of the Southwest (particularly Arizona) and its ancestral geographic importance for Native Americans. Janet and Mick continue to be one of my favorite paranormal romance couples (Mick even becomes serious about his future with Janet). Despite their struggles and neverending supernatural drama, they are able to work together as one in their defeat against evil. In the meantime, they make new allies who learn the meaning of honesty and friendship. Stay tuned for more novels from the Stormwalker series! 

[Updated February 2019] The next novel in the Stormwalker series is Dragon Bites.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Red Queen (Witch World #1)

Jessie discovers that she's stumbled into a world where some people can do the impossible and others may not even be human. For a time she fears she's lost her mind. Are there really witches? Is she one of them?

Red Queen is a new young adult novel in the Witch World series by best-selling author Christopher Pike. There are two worlds: one world is populated by humans, and the other world is populated by witches. One plays the card game Twenty-One, known as Blackjack, the other symbolically plays Twenty-Two, known as Red Queen. Jessie Ralle is introduced to this bifurcated world through her high school graduation road trips. She has only one worry: how to make it through the road trip with her ex, Jimmy Kelter, the guy who broke her heart five months ago when he dumped her for no reason. Once they arrive in Las Vegas, Jessie soon realizes that Jimmy is the least of her problems.

In Las Vegas she meets Russ, a mesmerizing stranger who shows her how to gamble and win big. Russ never seems to lose, which captivates Jessie. Curious, she wants to know the secret his secret, and in response, goes alone with him to his hotel room. Unfortunately, her short encounter with Russ leads her on a bizarre journey that murders her and brings her back to life not only as a witch but as a mother to a nearly perfect witch child coveted by the Lapras, a secret organization of evil witches who want to take over the world. In the human world, she is Jessie; in witch world, she is Jessica. As she adjusts to her new dual life with supernatural witch powers, she plunges into dangerous situations and terrifying messes. Family secrets are also revealed. Her only hope is the Tar, the good witches, who vow to protect her from the Lapras.

Red Queen is a new novel series by Christopher Pike. Initially the novel was difficult to follow because the dual universe aspect surprised me. It can be a confusing ride if readers do not pay close attention to the dual worlds. There is a lot of juxtaposition between the worlds and the powers that connect them: good and evil, pain and pleasure, love and hate. Additionally, the morbid plot, violence, and unsympathetic protagonist may deter some people from finishing the novel. As a result, I believe Red Queen is most appropriate for adults, not young teens.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Witch World series, Black Knight.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: Soundless (2015) by Richelle Mead

In a village without girl hearse a call to action...and unlocks a power that will save her people.

Soundless, by Richelle Mead, is a young adult paranormal novel that takes place in ancient China. For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear or speak vocally. Her mountain village is isolated from the outside world because an avalanche blocked the only entry way many years ago. Over time, the people began to lose the ability to hear, forcing them to use sign language to communicate with one another. Their only source to the outside world is the zipline which delivers food to the villagers in exchange for minerals from the mines. When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. A crisis is brewing, and Fei is forced to act fast.

One night, Fei wakes up to hear a searing noise. She has regained the ability to hear. Sound becomes her weapon. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies her on a journey to the unknown. They don't want their people to suffer starvation and blindness. Therefore, the two embark on a majestic quest from their mountain village to the valley of Beiguo where the startling truth will change their lives forever...

Soundless is Mead's first book that takes place outside of the Western world. With careful detail and precision, Mead introduces her readers to ancient Chinese culture and mythology. I hope that Richelle Mead turns this novel into a series. It has a lot of potential: What happens to Fei once she gains the ability to hear? Will she learn how to speak as well? Will her romantic partner also gain the ability to hear? What about the kingdom that wanted to destroy the village? Does Fei and her friends continue to explore outside the mountain region? I had so many questions when I finished this book. Hopefully, they are answered in a second novel. As for now, Soundless is a stand-alone novel.

In the meantime, stay tuned to another series that Mead is launching in 2016, The Glittering Court. The third novel to the Age of X series is called The Eye of Andromeda, will also be available in 2016. Stay tuned to more updates!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wicked Melody Tavern's aStore Launched!

Happy New Year! I have established an online bookstore (via that lists all the books and anime shows I have read and watched since the beginning of this blog. For books, browse and purchase books by the author's name. The anime show section is under construction but will be updated periodically to include anime shows that I reviewed on this blog.
Click here to access the online store.