Friday, June 25, 2010

The Sorceress - Michael Scott





Here's another review by Amica Paige...





I finally had the time to read The Sorceress, and had my fill indeed, at least for the time-being until I get my hands on the next book. As with the previous books, this third sequel in the fantastic tale, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, is an exhilarating ride right from the start, as monsters-in-disguise chase the protagonists through St. Pancras Station to the Sorceress’ escape from Alcatraz. This edition equally brims with mounting battles, surprising turns, unforeseen alliances, and unexpected encounters, on top of endless references to legendary characters, both fictional and factual, if you can handle a bit of information overload. The Saracen Knight, Shakespeare, and Gilgamesh all turn up this time amidst an onslaught of some of the most grotesque creatures to ever emerge in any mythical realm—sea-creatures, flesh-eaters, vampire breeds, the Horned God, wolf-men, and other beasts, dog-like, bear-like, goat-like, and definitely unlike we’ve ever seen before. Even the fabled Virginia Dare and Billy the Kid make their devious appearance alongside the enemies, as well as "normal-looking humans which are "the most frightening of all" for Josh Newman. I’m very curious about how this incredible epic will be translated onto the big screen. I’m hoping that the filmmakers come close enough to Scott’s literary creation and not lose the story in its immensity, which seems common to big productions getting too caught up in their hullabaloos.
As the race to save or destroy mankind heats up, the Flamels still haven’t recovered the book of Abraham the Mage from their adversary, the English Magician, and so continue to age significantly and weaken. Meanwhile, their time to protect the human race runs grim as the summer solstice, Litha, draws near. On that day, the twins’ auras will have reached their full strength as the barriers to the Shadowrealms weaken, thus enabling the Dark Elders to unleash inconceivable horrors to wipe out humanity and reclaim the world. Sure enough, Dee and Macchiavelli get desperately busy in their pursuit of the Flamels, the twins of legend, Sophie and Josh, and the last two pages of the codex for the Dark Elders, or risk their own immortalities. But of course, the Alchemist and the Sorceress have other plans than to simply surrender or drop dead. As Perenelle attempts to escape the monster-infested prison through her cunning and great sorcery, Nicholas must prevail in having the twins fully trained in elemental magic before it’s too late. But their next lesson is with a mad, old King, which could be quite troublesome. Even more problematic is the twins’ growing distrust of the evasive Alchemist, which surely doesn’t help ease the situation, though it certainly makes for a more intriguing plot. Then, there’s Clarent, Excalibur’s twin sword, to further complicate the matter. As Josh slowly realizes Clarent’s dark influence, Dee’s desire for it only deepens, especially since he already possesses the other blade. And while the strengths of both swords are unmistakable, the force that they could yield together is unthinkable, particularly in the hands of one with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and power, like the Magician. The swords' existence poses a new question: could they be the prophesied “two that are one”?
Deeper twists unravel as the events in this blazing saga unfold—events that surely don’t come without a fight. Yet even with its never-ending battles, at the heart of this fascinating story are timeless themes that reveal humanity's ongoing inner struggles for hope in the darkest hours, perseverance through the most difficult obstacles, courage against the most formidable foes, empathy for even the most dubious characters, forgiveness for the grossest wrongs, a chance of redemption for the offender, trust even when no one seems worthy of it, loyalty amidst great uncertainty, the bonds of families and friendships, and ultimately, the good of mankind, not self-preservation, but a genuine concern for life. Like all other insightful narratives, this story challenges the conventional view and blurs the line between good and evil. Michael Scott has yet again brewed an enchanting concoction, a true “conjugation”, a perfect equilibrium of magic and history, because “at the heart of every story is a grain of truth.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Newsboys!

I have a strange fascination with Christian music. There are times when I cringe from what I hear, and there are times where I see artists with tremendous talent living out their faith. My favorite out of all the Christian artists would have to be the boys from down under, known as the Newsboys. I guess I should say that they STARTED OUT as a band from Australia. Now, after band members coming and going, they have only one true Aussie left (Duncan Phillips). Lead singer Peter Furler, who for me epitomizes everything good about this band, left the band to be replayed by Michael Tait. I still can’t fully express how I feel about this since I always thought Peter WAS the Newsboys. Honestly I think they should have just changed their name. Time will tell how this all pans out in the next few years, especially with their new album being released in July. Anyway I thought I’d bring up three Newsboys albums released before Furler’s “retirement”.












Newsboys Live: Houston We Are Go

After the Newsboys' experiment into the “Worship” territory, they released the album Go. This album returned back to what the Newsboys built a reputation on: lively, bouncy tracks that get stuck in your head for days. Newsboys Live: Houston We Are Go is the CD/DVD version of their tour that supported this album. Let’s face it, I can’t imagine getting let down from a Newsboys show, so this release is obviously is good. However, after seeing their Newsboys - Shine: The Hits Live DVD from 2001, I don’t think another release can top that one. That one set the standard as far as the quality of a Newsboys show. And while Houston We Are Go isn’t a letdown, it doesn’t hold up to Shine. However, if you want to see a more recent concert with all of the Newsboys excitement, then check out Houston We Are Go.












Newsboys: The Ultimate Collection

Want to get a full dosage of Newsboys fun? Then check out the ULTIMATE COLLECTION. This 2-disc set contains most of their best tracks over the years. Of course with each album there are pros and cons. Pros for this would have to be it has most of their well known tracks. Anyone not familiar with the band would do well by listening to this to get a good feel for their sound. Cons would be that it doesn’t contain enough of songs from their old days. I’m talking about when guys were rockin’ mullets and playing songs heavily influenced by the 80’s. Other than that this album is one to have for any fan of the ‘boys.












In The Hands Of God

This album is significant in that it’s the last album released with Peter Furler as lead singer. Reviews for this one were somewhat negative from critics, but forget what they say. At first I wasn’t blown away, but it really grew on me after a few listens. I still keep it on rotation in my playlist. This album is a little more rock than previous Newsboys albums, and the lyrics contain the usual quirky lines that you’ve come to expect from them. Standout tracks for me are The Way We Roll, No Grave, This Is Your Life, The Upside, Dance, and RSL 1984. Honestly, I am sad at the fact that Furler isn’t performing with them anymore, as this is one of the few bands that kept Christian music from heading to the graveyard. I will miss the days of seeing the bald headed Aussie leading the band in their energetic shows. Hopefully, like many other artists that “retire” (Jay-Z, etc) Peter will come back… SOON!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

VALENTINE’S DAY - Blu-ray











Hey everybody, it’s VALENTINE’S DAY!

Actually, it’s not.

But it can be when you watch the romantic comedy on Blu-ray!
With an all-star cast leading the way, this film can either improve or ruin your date night. This film by veteran filmmaker Garry Marshall takes a look at love and how it intertwines in the lives of the different characters. It’s not the best Garry Marshall film, but it’s got some pretty funny moments and is a decent comedy. I checked out the Blu-ray and along with the film there are some cool extra features. There’s 14 Deleted Scenes with intros from Garry Marshall, Gag Reel, and a music video for Jewel’s “Stay Here Forever” to name a few.

VALENTINE’S DAY is out now on Blu-ray.

Invictus - Blu-ray











A powerful movie with some great acting.

I've been bored lately with a lot of movies. To see Invictus was a breath of fresh air. As you may know, it’s out now on Blu-ray, and if you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you check it out. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon pull off some really great acting, and much kudos goes to Clint Eastwood for his directing skills. This powerful film tells the story of how President Mandela tries to unite his country through rugby! If you have been jaded with movies, then give this one a shot.