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.
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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's Theme

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) Click here to read the rest of this post...

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!
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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. Click here to read the rest of this post...

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.
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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.
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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! Click here to read the rest of this post...