Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Ghost Stories (2000-2001)

Ghost Stories (2000-2001) is a children's supernatural anime. It has 20 episodes and takes place in contemporary Japan.

The story begins when Satsuki and her younger brother, Keichirou, move back to their deceased mother's hometown. ON their first day of school, they meet three other kids (Haijime, their neighbor, Momoko, an older schoolmate, and Leo, a classmate and friend of Hajime who has an interest in ghost-hunting) and visit the abandoned school building adjacent to their current school complex. Upon their discovery, the abandoned school house is haunted. When young Satsuki stumbles upon an old book of spells from her deceased mother, she gains the power to fight ghosts and evil spirits that are haunting her new school. It was Satsuki's deceased mother who was responsible for sealing the ghosts inside a hill. However, a residential development project threatens to release them into the human world again. With the help of her friends and a possessed devil cat, she must protect everyone around her. While the devil cat, Amanojaku, does not want to help Satsuki, the danger soon threatens the entire town and it is up to the group to stop the evil spirits.

This anime is good entertainment if you are interested in ghosts. The encounters with spirits will scare you. It has that nostalgic "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" feeling too. This anime is available to buy on DVD in Japanese and English dubbed versions. The dubbed version would be rated MA or R for use of adult references in American popular culture (I think the producers were aiming for an adult audiences). This anime is not appropriate for children.

Opening Theme: "Grow Up" by Hysteric Blue

Ending Theme: "Sexy Sexy" by Cascade
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness, is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. Historian and weaver witch, Diana Bishop, and vampire scientist and de Clermont family assassin, Matthew Clairmont, return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Sept-Tours (France), they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches with one significant exception. In addition, Diana returns to the present as a pregnant mother-to-be with twins! The search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency as new threats emerge. The safety of the twins is of utmost importance as Diana and Matthew struggle with ancient traditions and a dangerous nemesis from the past who desires nothing but revenge and destruction.

In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

I really enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy series. Although I was never a fan of British literature, Deborah Harkness brilliantly combined old prose and modern language that introduced readers to the world of Diana Bishop, a spellbound witch-turned-professor who stumbles upon the world of the supernatural, time-travel, and eventually her true calling. Although her stubborn personality sometimes annoyed me to the point of headaches, I could sympathize with her position. She was walking down a path with risks and unknown future. Readers will be overjoyed and surprised to learn the secrets of Ashmole 782 (I would have never imagined the outcome to turn out the way it did but it fits the plot). There is a strong theme of interracial marriage throughout the book and how people prevented such relationships due to fear and ignorance of the unknown. A basic knowledge of early modern European history (roughly 1500s to 1800s), especially the Elizabethan English era, is also highly recommended to understand the jargon and appreciate the symbolism throughout the books. Finally, I hope that this book trilogy becomes a film franchise. As long as it stays true to the book, it has the pieces to become a successful hit like The Hunger Games and Divergent. For more information about the All Souls Trilogy, please visit Harkness' official website. I cannot overstate this enough -- this is a fantastic series and start from where it all began in A Discovery of Witches! Click here to read the rest of this post...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13)

Now, the late Harry Dresden will have to pull off the ultimate trick without using any magic—or face an eternity as just another lost soul…

Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher, is the thirteenth novel in the Dresden Files series. At 500 pages, this is the longest Dresden Files novel to date. After an unknown assassin murders him and leaves him to die in the dark depths of Lake Michigan, Harry Dresden hopes that he's heading to a better place. However, being dead doesn't make his life any easier. Trapped between life and death, Harry learns that his friends are in serious trouble in Chicago. Only by finding his murderer can he save his friends and move on—a feat which would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. Worse still are the malevolent shadows that roam Chicago, controlled by a dark entity that wants Harry to suffer even in death.

I had high expectations for this book ever since I read Changes and the novella in Side Jobs. At nearly 500 pages, it was a big of a drag to finish the entire book. In post-Dresden Chicago, chaos roams the streets. There were moments when Harry reflected too much on himself and not the crisis at hand -- saving his friends from an undead necromancer who wants to take over the world. I struggled with the fact that Dresden knew that he asked a companion to take him out after the events that occurred in Changes, yet as a ghost he forgets that he initiated the order. There were high and low moments throughout the book where I wondered where Butcher was taking his readers. It was not one of Butcher's best novels (some parts were boring), but I am glad to shift focus to Dresden's next role as the Winter Knight in Cold Days.

Stay tuned for the fourteenth novel in the Dresden Files series, Cold Days (Dresden Files).
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Promotional Trailer for Second Season of Sleepy Hollow

Below is the promotional trailer for the second season of Sleepy Hollow. It will premiere on September 22, 2014 at 9:00 pm EST on FOX.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Thirst Series #1 (The Last Vampire, Black Blood, and Red Dice)

Thirst #1: The Last Vampire, Black BLood, and Red Red Dice, by Christopher Pike, is the first three books of popular teen series, The Last Vampire. The books have been reprinted and updated into an omnibus for easier reading. The description states:

At five thousand years old, the vampire Alisa thought she was smart enough to stay out of trouble. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must protect herself by befriending Ray, the boy who may be her only chance at finding her maker. When she begins to fall in love with Ray, all of a sudden there is more at stake than her own life. Originally published in 1994, this series netted more than 500,000 copies as individual titles and later as bind-ups. This hot new repackage will revive the series for today’s teen.

I had heard many great reviews about the The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike over the years but never had the chance until now to read the books. The omnibus is a great way to read through a popular series without having to track down the original mass marketplace paperback versions. Since the 1990s, Pike (along with R.L. Stine) has become one of the greatest teen horror authors in the genre. Their books influenced the rise of the adult/teen urban fantasy series in the 2000s. The Thirst books are a great way to revisit why these books became popular among young readers.

The Thirst #1 omnibus focus on the life of Sita, a 5000-year-old vampire from India who considers herself the last of her kind on earth. In The Last Vampire, she lives under the shadows until her creator, Yaksha, reappears to locate and capture her. In Bloack Blood, there is bloodshed and loss (even the man she loves) as she tries to prevent more vampires from roaming the earth. She keeps her promise to the man (Indian god, Krishna) who saved her life a long time ago. In Red Dice,, she runs into more trouble when she discovers a former flame and secret government facility experimenting with vampire blood. Sita (or known as Alisa or Laura throughout the books) must destroy all evidence so that the world does not know about vampires. Sita has a cruel responsibility and wishes nothing more but to be human again.

Stay tuned for the second omnibus of the original six-book collection, Thirst Series #2: Phantom, Evil Thirst, Creatures of Forever.\
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Up From the Grave (Night Huntress #7)

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death...because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives--and those of everyone they hold dear-- will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

Up From the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, is the seventh and final book in the Night Huntress series. A rogue CIA agent is involved in a horrifying secret genetic experiments that threatens to start an all-out war between humans and the undead (vampires, ghouls). Cat Crawfield and her husband, Bones, must race against time to save their captured friends from a fate worse than death. Once the enter the secret underground facility, they discover a secret so profound and shocking that there is no room for mistakes. For Cat to protect everyone she holds dear, she must come out on top against powerful forces who originally wanted her dead.

Frost delivers a spellbinding story that would shake the Night Huntress universe. Fans will be in for a surprising rollercoaster ride when the secrets of the genetic experiments reveals a weapon that could launch an all-out war among the undead. Fortunately, there is a happy ending for Cat Crawfield and her friends even if it means leaving behind everything they knew for survival's sake. From the Ohio countryside to government agent, Cat Crawfield led an adventurous life as a hybrid (half-human/half-vampire) vampire hunter. I will miss her funny and kickass attitude. I am very glad that I picked up this series and highly recommend it to anyone interested in urban fantasy with an erotic/suspense twist.

For reading order, I recommend reading this book before Twice Tempted.
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