The Indigo Spell-Should You Read It?

Image result for the indigo spell Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Rating: 4/5

As the Bloodlines series continues, more and more magic becomes involved with Sydney Sage and her history teacher, Mrs. Terwiliger.

This is the third book in the series, and it opens up with Mrs. Terwiliger asking Sidney to help her out with the spell, a spell that only a virgin can do. This spell is a type of scrying spell that allows the caster to see another person wherever they are. It turns out that Mrs. Terwiliger’s sister might be sucking magic away from other young which is and killing them to stay youthful, and she wants Sydney’s help with this problem. Of course Sydney complies, but she has a number of other things that she’s dealing with the same time, between her unspoken affections for Adrian Ivashkov and her duty to the Alchemists.

Sydney is invited to Sonya and Mikhail’s wedding, a vampire wedding in which a few Alchemists are invited to keep the peace and develop a relationship between the two groups. To aid in keeping the peace, Sidney is asked to dance with Adrian when he approaches her with an open hand. With a look of fame discussed, Sydney complies, showing both the Alchemists and the vampires that they can work together under various circumstances.

At the same time, Sidney questions the goals of the alchemists, as evidenced in the events of The Golden Lily, in which Sydney was captured by a group of vampire hunters, and the name Marcus enters her thoughts. From the vampire hunters, Sydney previously found out that a man named Marcus left the Alchemists, but the problem is, nobody leaves the Alchemists-they are not permitted to do so. With this name of her lips, Sydney aims to find Marcus between trips with Adrian to attempt to save young witched from Mrs. Terwiliger’s sister.

Eventually, Sydney does find Marcus, but they start off on awkward terms with a fight insuring, Marcus thinking that the Alchemists have found him. When Sydney shares her hope of leaving the Alchemists, Marcus explains that a special ink is used to break the vampire compulsion used in the golden lily tattoos that keep the Alchemists from saying things they shouldn’t or from stepping out of line.

When Sydney’s life is threatened by the opposing witch, she learns that it was not her teacher’s sister at all, but someone else who had been seeking power, and Sydney must practice her magic to face this powerful witch.

Safe and sound, Sydney is becoming more comfortable with using magic, but she is also learning that her feelings for Adrian might be effecting her life choices as well. When asked to go to Mexico with Marcus to get her tattoo broken, Sydney at first complies, but later chooses to stay with Adrian and admit her feelings for him, even though they come to the conclusion that they would have to hide their relationship, especially when Sydney’s sister is added to the on-duty Alchemists in Palm Springs.

I really enjoyed this book and as the series progresses, the stakes get higher and higher, and the intensity is escalated. Now that Adrian and Sydney choose to be together, they must hide from the vampires and the Alchemists, otherwise Sydney might get caught and taken to the Reeducation that seems so torturous by the alchemists. This was a fantastic read and I am looking forward to the next installment to see how Sydney balances her relationships between her sister and Adrian, as well as with Mrs. Terwiliger. It will be interesting to see how the Alchemists handle the situation. Overall a great series that I would continue to recommend to readers in their later teens, especially females because the romance in the story heightens the anxiety of separation and the eagerness to find out what will happen next!


The Mortal Instruments (The Graphic Novel)-Should You Read It?

Image result for mortal instruments graphic novelGenre: Manga/Young Adult Fiction/Paranormal

Rating: 5/5

First of all, I call this a manga rather than a graphic novel because 1) graphic novels are usually in color or printed on a shiny paper and 2) this was published by Yen Press, a well-known manga publisher in North America. I have reviews for: Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows, and a special spotlight review on Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy as well, all of which likewise feature some of Cassandra Jean’s artwork.

Maybe I am biased (I try not to be), but this is one of my few 5/5 star ratings. It is an amazing adaptation of the first part (about half) of Cassandra Clare’s novel, City of Bones. Also, the art was done by Cassandra Jean, one of my personal favorite artists. All the work she does for the Shadowhunter novels is absolutely spot-on when it comes to what I, as a reader, think the characters look like. I even have the Shadowhunter Illustrated History with her artwork, the Mortal Instruments Coloring Book, and the tarot cards, all with Cassandra Jean’s work. If it hadn’t been for her beauty with Shadowhunter’s, I never would have found some of her other original work, such as Reindeer Boy (which is officially one of my favorites, also a manga published by Yen Press).

With all this fin stuff in mind, perhaps I should talk a bit about the story and to what extent it follows the novel. It has been about ten years since I first read City of Bones, and I am still a major Shadowhunter fan. This adaptation was not only done with beautiful art, but adapting the story was done well also. This first volume Introduces the reader to Clary Fray, a girl who enjoys a normal life with her friend, Simon. All that turns around when she witnesses a murder in the Pandemonium club.

Little did she know that it was a demon being murdered, and that Shadowhunters are meant to protect the mundane (human) world. When Jace Wayland discovers that Clary has the sight, he aims to bring her into the world of Shadowhunters, even though she does not want that…at first.

The three mortal instruments, the cup, the sword, and the mirror, are first described in this volume, and some of the history and lore of the Shadowhunters is introduced. The reader is also given some backstory by Jace, and the volume ends after Magnus’s party, when he warns Clary that her mother was hiding her from the terror of the Shadowhunter world.

I absolutely loved this adaptation; the art adds a different perspective when reading, in that I notice physical character interactions in a way that I did not notice when reading the novel originally. This is only volume one, and with the title being The Mortal Instruments, I will be assuming (and hoping) that it will cover the six books in the original story arc.

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On another note, on the same day as this manga, the 10th anniversary edition of City of Bones was released, and it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever purchased. There is a number of colored interior art by Cassandra Jean both within the pages as well as the interior covers. There are also a number of black and white pieces of art added into various places, which will really add to the reading experience and has me greatly looking forward to reading the novel again and starting my Shadowhunter journey from where it all began over ten years ago. There are also added files from the Clave, which is an interesting part of this edition as well, and the binding is like that of an old book, giving it a chic feel of value.

Image result for city of bones 10th anniversary interior art

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)-Should You Read It?

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/New Adult Paranormal

Rating: 4/5

This is the second book in the Bloodlines series and can also be classified as urban fantasy. While no one else I have seen will say this is a “new adult” genre novel, I place it there because the point of view character, Sydney, and potential love interest, Adrian, are 18 and 21 (or 220 respectively, which is a wobbly zone for being young adult versus new adult: So it’s both!

Just as great as the first novel, this novel picks up a month or so later. Sydney Sage, loyal alchemist and protector of the secret society of vampires (Moroi and Strigoi), aims to be an intellectual individual with at least some normal aspects of life. Her independent study teacher really begins to push her boundaries by having Sydney study small charms in witchcraft, on top of all her Alchemist work. It’s tough enough keeping Jill Dragomir, cousin to the Moroi queen, a secret, let alone adding witchcraft to the mix, and let’s not forget a new boyfriend!

Trey, a student at the boarding school Sydney is staying at, has found the literal perfect match for Sydney, a brainiac and lover of Greek and Roman history. When Sydney and Brayden begin their romantic relationship, they are both new to having another person around in a romantic way and are both a bit awkward about it.

When Adrian finds out, he love to make fun of Brayden, but could there be a hint of jealousy there for some reason? When Sydney offers to drive Adrian to meet his dad in a city a couple of hours away, she is drawn into lunch with them (at both her and Adrian’s misery) and sees firsthand just how Adrian’s father treats him. The drive back involves a slushee break to cheer Adrian up, but the small act seems to have greater impact than either of them anticipate.

The Halloween dance is ever looming, and the fashion designer that Jill had done some work for previously, continues to seek out and use Jill because she is perfect model material. The designer makes and sends beautiful costumes to Sydney and Jill in hopes of coaxing Sydney to let Jill model again, but to no avail. The costume Sydney receives is meant to be more of a Roman toga style, but resembles a flashy sexual dress that Sydney couldn’t ever imagine wearing (but she does). Adrian gets a glimpse and says she’s the most beautiful girl in the world, a comment she would rather have had from her boyfriend, Brayden, but does not get.

On top of all this good stuff, Sydney oversees Adrian, Sonya, and Dimitri’s experiments with spirit. They are aiming to find some link between spirit and the fact that a restored Strigoi cannot become a Strigoi again. During their experiments, Sonya and Sydney are attacked in an alley, and later, Sonya is actually captured as a known Strigoi by the Warriors of Light, a group once connected to the Alchemists.

The group, not believing Sonya to be back to Moroi form, aims to kill her. Sydney infiltrates their hideout with the help of Trey, a member of the Warriors, and is rescued by an organized group of Dhampir’s sent by Sydney’s superior. While Sonya is safe, something the leader of the Warrior said bothers Sydney, something about starting with Strigoi, but going after Moroi as well.

With a new threat on the horizon, Sydney finds that the Alchemist may be keeping a few too many secrets to themselves, and Jill may not be as safe as expected. With the mention of a name, Marcus, Sydney has something to go off of, to find a man who has seemingly left the alchemists and “broken” his tattoo.” On top of everything, Adrian finally admits his feelings, and while Sydney seems to feel the same way, she rejects him for the sake or tradition.

I absolutely love the pacing of this series as well as the conflicts. While there are ongoing issues that continue through the series (Such as Sydney and Adrian’s relationship, her family relationship, or what is going on in the Moroi world for Jill’s concern), there is always a plot that is contained within the novel itself. The books read very quickly, and the end always has some cliffhanger from the ongoing arcs that keep the reader itching for more. Mead’s craft is pretty good for the target audience, but I come across more typo’s and syntax errors in these books than I have seen in any other book for quite some time, which is one of the reasons I lower the rating of the novels. Despite how excellent these books are, I feel that I cannot give them a five just because there are more unique books or writers with better overall craft out there, but these are still some of my favorites, and I would highly recommend them! (And if you couldn’t guess by now, I would say YES, you should read this book).

Bloodlines-Should You Read It?

Bloodlines_Novel.jpg (320×483)

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/New Adult Fiction/Paranormal

Rating: 4/5

While this is a spin-off series from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, it can still be read as its own series. I would highly recommend reading the Vampire Academy series first anyway, because this book has a lot of references and characters that first appear in Vampire Academy. One of the characters in the later part of the series, a supporting character, takes on a leading role in this series, and the main character, Sydney, reflects upon events that happened with her and the vampires during the Vampire  Academy series. Also, I had trouble deciding whether this should be young adult or new adult, because the main characters are 18 and 21, but the other characters are high school age and the predecessoing novels are young adult, so I put under both, because I think college-age would like this novel too.

After Lissa Dragomir becomes the Queen in their society, her cousin, Jill, is in grave danger. With the Vampire rule that a ruling monarch must have a living relative to hold the position, Jill’s life is attempted at to remove Lissa from the throne. Told from the first person perspective of Sydney, the Alchemist must keep the peace while aiding to hide Jill in Palm Springs.

Alchemists find Vampires to be against nature, their very existence a foreboding thing against God. Sydney is frightened of their use of magic, abnormal beauty, and blood diet, but even more foreboding are the Strigoi. Strigoi are the evil, corrupt version of the Vampire community who live forever and enjoy killing, while Moroi are the mortal elites, and Dhampirs are half human half Moroi.

With Sydney finding her latest assignment acting as Jill’s sister at a boarding school in Palm Springs and keeping Jill hidden and safe, she also notices a number of things. One is that everyone loves her tattoo and thinks it makes her super intelligent so she doesn’t have to try academically. When other students begin getting tattoos that make them high or enhance them physically, Sydney suspects the misuse of compounds made by her own association: the Alchemists. The other thing that she notices is that a strange sting of murders has happened in the area over the last few years. Could there be any connections here?

The only local Vampire in Palm Springs believes that his daughter, among those murdered, was killed by some vampire hunters. The odd thing is, vampire hunters seem like a thing of myth, since it is part of the Alchemists jobs to keep the Vampire world hidden. When the attacks appear to be from a Strigoi, Sydney and Adrian investigate, only to find that something even more shocking than a Strigoi OR vampire hunter has been behind the murders.

To keep the human world safe from the Vampire world, Sydney must learn to face her fear of Vampire magic and mystery, and fight to keep her job in Palm Springs. Jill and Adrian have some interesting secrets of their own, but Sydney finds that even though they are Vampires, she can possibly call them friends.

I was a bit wary of this book at first, thinking it may not be as good as the Vampire Academy series, but it was an excellent read. Like I said, you can read it on its own, but I would highly recommend reading the Vampire Academy series first because of the number of events and character appearances. This book is amazing, and shows what happens to Adrian after his heartbreak with Rose. That being said, Adrian was definitely one of my favorite characters from the original series, and I am glad he was able to get his own story, because he is an interesting character, and the development of both him and Sydney is superb. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Death Troopers-Should You Read It?

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

So I said I was going to do Outbound Flight next, but Death Troopers kept taunting me from my bookshelf, so here it is! Now, some people are wary of Death Troopers because they aren’t sure zombies really fit in the world of Star Wars, but Joe Schreiber masterfully presents this dark story, which takes place in year 1BBY, about one year before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Two teenage boys-Kale and Trig Longo-are among many inmates on a prison barge called the Purge. On its way to a detention moon, the ship breaks down. Luckily, it is near a seemingly abandoned Star Destroyer called the Vector, where the crew can go collect parts for the Purge. Jereth Sartoris takes a team onto the eerily quiet Vector with only half the men returning to the Purge, bringing with them a deadly virus called the Blackwing virus (the origins of which can be read in the prequel to Death Troopers, Red Harvest).

Investigating the virus is the prison barge’s doctor, Zahara Cody. Finding out she is immune, she searches the barge for any survivors to initiate the antivirus. Both Kale and Trig seem to be unaffected, but the virus spreads fast, and they seek an escape pod as their only plan, where they run into Sartoris, another who seems to be immune.

In her search for survivors, Doctor Cody checks the isolation bay, the only place the virus may not have struck yet. In the bay, she finds none other than Chewbacca and Han Solo, initiating the antivirus to the only survivors she has found so far. Making their way to escape, Doctor Cody warns to watch out for all the bodies, only to find that they had vanished!

Of course, Sartoris takes the pod for himself, leaving the boys, who end up with Han. Returning to the Vector to find their means of escape, the group must find some way to get away from these dead things, things that have been kept alive by the mere presence of a more concentrated form of the virus. This is when Doctor Zahara comes to the conclusion that someone wanted this virus to be spread over the entire Empire.

The scare factor was interesting, but the zombie action was reserved for the later part of the novel. This aside, I would highly recommend this book, and YES, you should read it, even if you are one of those Star Wars fans that is unsure about adding zombies into the universe.

I do not know why there is a Jedi in this image, but subtract that and you get a pretty solid rendition of the novel’s imagery. We know they survive, obviously, because they play a major role in the main story arc to come. But first, Han must get his ship out of Imperial impoundment…

Vampire Knight–Should You Read It?

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Manga

Rating: 4/5

Vampire Knight is a well-known, 19 volume Shojo Beat manga (aimed toward a female audience) by Matsuri Hino. This manga is rated T+ for older teens because it does have some sexual connotations as well as some (light?) gore.

The story revolves around Yuki Cross, a girl found at the age of ten covered in blood. Who was it to find her but a vampire, Kaname Kuran. She is then adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy (hence her last name) and becomes a member of the disciplinary committee at an academy that favors peace between humans and vampires. The day class is made up of humans, while the night class, unknown to the day class, is made up of vampires.

Soon, a boy named Zero joins Yuki and the headmaster in their happy little adoptive family. His whole family was slaughtered by vampires, so Zero has a hard time keeping his cool at Cross Academy. What Yuki doesn’t know (until maybe volume 3 or 4) is that Zero was bitten by a pure-blood vampire, meaning his body is slowly changing into a creature of the night, and he must survive on blood tablets, which is the main source of food for the night class (who do not feed off of humans).

One of the big elements of this series is the love triangle between Yuki and Zero, and Yuki and Kaname. So of course we have the savior, Kaname, who Yuki absolutely adores, but Zero has been in her life just as long, and she has always been there for him. When Zero’s feelings become known, Yuki isn’t too sure what to do. Kaname assures Zero that Yuki will never be with him, for she already belongs to the Kuran family. It becomes even more of an entangled mess when Zero is deemed a vampire hunter, which seems to go against the wishes of Cross Academy.

One of the things that really keeps the reader going is that question, “Is Kaname going to turn her into a vampire?” Okay, so I can’t say SPOILER ALERT here, because what happens next is in volume 9, only halfway through the series. So read this paragraph at your own risk. It turns out that Yuki Cross was actually Yuki Kuran all along, Kaname’s pure-blood vampire sister to whom he is betrothed. Kaname reawakens Yuki’s vampire blood which was set to dormancy to keep her safe from the evil vampire senate.

The second half of the series was not quite as interesting because that question that keeps us going for the first half has already presented the answer. So the second half is all about Kaname and his need to destroy all the pure-bloods and have himself become the special metal that vampire hunters use for their weapons. The original vampire to do this was long dead, but there is a hunter origin story that takes place within the series as well. With this, Yuki sets out to stop him. This is where a lot of the gore takes place in the series, a lot of bloodshed going on.

After being reinstated to her pure-blood state, Yuki and Zero can no longer be friends, according to Zero. But when Kaname is going out to finish his goal, Zero and Yuki team up once more to find him. When they do find him, the climactic ending takes place. I will not say the ending, but I will say that the ending felt like a bit of a cop-out on the author’s side, somewhat similar to the endings of How I Met Your Mother and the Infernal Devices (Cassandra Clare)–MAJOR COP-OUTS FOR THE FEMALE PROTAGONIST! I’m not saying it was a bad ending, I’m just pointing out that getting both lovers in the end, no matter how it is done, doesn’t seem like a realistic ending.

On that note, if you are a girl and you love yourself a nice vampire romance, read this series! It’s pretty fast-paced, even after that midway slowdown where some questions are answered, but new questions arise in place of the old. Most female readers enjoy the cop-out ending anyway, so you might just want to see how she ends up with both of them in this scenario.

If vampires are not your thing, then NO, you should not read this book. If cop-out endings are not your thing, don’t even look at this book! If you are looking for something with a lot of blood, this is not the book to turn to–the gore is very minimal here.

SIDE NOTE: Matsuri Hino has some other great stuff too. For any fan of her writing (although translated) or her art, I would recommend Meru Puri (4 Volumes) and Wanted (1 Volume).

New Release: Vampire Knight Memories–Should You Read It?

Image result for vampire knight memories

Being a fan of the original series, when I heard about this new release, I was pretty excited. I was hoping to see more of the story, what happens after Kaname is frozen? What happens with Yuki and Zero? While these questions are somewhat answered in Vampire Knight: Memories, I was vastly disappointed by this manga. While it does have a lot of after-the-main-story things, it also has some flashbacks to times past that are somewhat hard to follow about characters that I either do not remember or do not care about. Each chapter is kind of like its own little story, and following along in a formal, cohesive way was not easy. It was like none of the stories had much to do with each other in terms of major plot events. Essentially, the plot is lacking and there is no incentive to continue reading. While Matsuri Hino still does wonderful art, having the stories take place over the course of 1,000 years takes away from the meaning of the stories. By doing all these time skips in the various stories, I almost do not care about any of the characters in this continuation of the series. Rating: 2/5.