Friday, August 29, 2008

Review: She-Wolf of London (1990)


She-Wolf of London was a short-lived TV British romantic paranormal comedy about an ill-fated love between an American graduate student and her mythology professor. Working on her masters thesis at a university in London, Randi meets this professor, Ian Matheson. She arrives expecting an old academic, but Ian is young and handsome. The two develop an unspoken attraction to each other, which only increases when Randi looks to him for help after surviving a werewolf attack while camping on the Yorkshire Moors. While searching for a cure for Randi's changed condition, Ian becomes Randi's guardian during the full moon phases. Meanwhile, the mismatched duo somehow always seems to find themselves in trouble when they investigate paranormal phenomena (ghosts, zombies, demons, etc.). Randi's werewolf form seems to clash with them along the way.

I first discovered this show on the Sci-Fi Channel when I was still an adolescent (mid-to-late 1990s). Sci-Fi was well-known for replaying discontinued cult shows and movies. I was so intrigued by paranormal shows, especially horror ones (werewolves, vampires, supernatural creatures, you name it.). In the second season, the financial backers abruptly dropped out and forced the setting to move from London to Los Angeles. It only lasted a few more episodes before it was finally canceled. (There is a 1946 movie version with the same title, but this I have never watched it and have no future plans to review it.) The show actually has its origins from the original 1981 horror film, An American Werewolf in London, using the same dark comedy elements.

I really liked the romantic horror theme behind the show even though it was short-lived (1990-1991, 16 episodes total). Most of the episodes didn't focus on the werewolf but rather paranormal investigations. The show had so much potential and could have last longer if it had more financial backers and better scriptwriting. If anyone has seen this show, I would be happy to hear comments. Luckily, the series is also available to watch on Youtube. If you don't have a high-speed connection, I don't believe it is available to buy or rent on DVD. I don't want to feel like I'm the only person who has heard of it.(Stay tuned for the next review on Forever Knight
. Now that is a cult classic!!)

Here is a preview of the show. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review: Blood Pact (Vicki Nelson #4)

"Someone was determined to learn the secret of life after death—and they were about to make Vicki Nelson’s mother part of the experiment!”

Blood Pact, by Tanya Huff, is the fourth book in the Blood (Vicki Nelson) series. The setting is contemporary (1990s) Kingston and Toronto, major cities in the Ontario province. It is now spring season and the second year since this series has begun. Victoria “Vicki” Nelson, private investigator and former Metro Police cop, wraps a case with her night partner, Henry Fitzroy, 450-year old vampire, bastard son of King Henry VIII and sometimes lover, finishing the job with an adulterer who left his family thinking he was dead. This story angers Vicki because her own father left her mother and herself to fend for themselves when she was little. This case affects her emotionally, and she immediately becomes very irritable. She insists that Henry and her ex-police partner and best friend, Detective-Sergeant Michael (“Mike”) Celluci, to not feel empathetic and leave her alone. She can handle things independently on her own for a change.

Vicki’s mother repeatedly calls her apartment but Vicki, wretched and furious from the case, just does not feel like talking on the phone. For days, this continues, until finally Vicki gives in. When she answers the phone, a friend of Vicki’s mother, Marjory Nelson, sadly tells her that her mother died from heart failure. Speechless and profound from what she hears, she leaves for Kingston without telling anyone the news. While Mike and Henry visit Vicki’s apartment concerning her disappearance, they both hold grudges at the sights of each other. Both men care deeply for her. Both men love her. (Talk about a love triangle over Vicki Nelson.) Both men despise each other, especially since Mike is mortal (living) and Henry is vampire (undead). But now they realize that Vicki is hurting from the loss of her mother, and they must set aside their petty feelings and rush to console her.

Meanwhile, near Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in a secret laboratory in the science halls, a doctor and her graduate students are conducting experiments to revive dead cadavers. (Basically, think of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead in the mix). Dr. Burke, Catherine and Donald have had little success with previous bodies because of their rapidly decomposition of the cadavers. One of the bodies, however, shows some nerve movement, which is a success for the team. With Catherine’s assistance in the experiments, they three may revive dead people from the dead, which will give them Nobel prizes in science. Can science defy the laws of nature? Can humans really live after death? They must seek more bodies, preferably fresh ones, so they can complete and evolve their tests.

However, Vicki Nelson does not care about the future of science regarding the human race. When she opens the casket of her dead mother in the funeral home, her body is missing. Why would anyone want to steal her body? Vicki, Mike and Henry in Kingston, Ontario, find themselves on a wild goose chase to find and recover her mother’s body so they can lay her to rest. But when Vicki spots her dead mother walking the streets, this frightens her beyond sanity. If her mother is dead, how can she be walking around like a living human? As the case becomes more dangerous and strange, Henry finds himself locked in a cage where his both his existence and sanity are at stake. Tired and startled, Vicki cannot grope with the loss of people around her any longer.

Will Mike and Vicki find the truth about her mother? Will they both live through the horror story or perish in the name of science? Only you can find that out by considering this novel.

While the concept of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead together sounded strange and very much science fiction (my science knowledge isn't that great, but it seemed real), Huff definitely wrote this book with genius, depth, excitement and emotion. At 330 pages, there was so much action and suspense that I could not place this book down! What I found missing in the previous novel, Blood Lines, I discovered again her genuine writing style from Blood Trail. This book is loaded with character development, plot and fabulous suspense. Despite the scientific terms reiterated throughout the novel, you will easily and gradually learn the terminology. But what a story!

Some will find this book has a “darker” side with more emotional breakdowns and frightening moments. After all, Vicki lost her own mother, the woman whom she used to criticize in previous novels for always calling her like she was a little child. Until this novel, readers did not know Marjory Nelson that well, and she was always a minor character, like Tony. She did not need to know that her mother was used as an experiment test in the name of defying the laws of nature and science. With so much facing her, she just emotionally and physically breaks down. Henry also finds himself in a life-and-death situation beyond his control, and almost kills Vicki and Mike just to satisfy the Hunger. Mike, helpless in the entire scenario as a human, only wants Vicki to be happy and safe. Despite the profanity in this novel, he seemed very emotional, despite his male ego, for Vicki’s and his own life.

The ending will shock many people. While I cannot express entirely what happened, it will nevertheless explain why this series stop at only five books. Although I was disappointed that the story had to end the way it did, I feel relieved and anxious on what new role Vicki has in the next novel. Nevertheless, this is one of Tanya Huff’s best works. This book was definitely the climax of the series. It made you think and want to consider what could happen in the next chapter. All the characters seemed so vulnerable yet courageous too. I really liked this book, despite its surprising ending, and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Stay tuned for the fifth and final book in the Blood a.k.a. ‘Vicki Nelson’ series, Blood Debt
.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

SoHodolls "Bang Bang" Video


I just recently discovered this band, and they are pretty good. So I will introduce them here. SoHodolls is a British electro alternative group from London, England. Their videos and stage shows are known for being energetic, dark (gothic) and highly erotic. They have released their first album, Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation in 2007. It is available for purchase on Amazon. This video is called "Bang Bang." I really like the rhythm. I think I will check out more of their songs in the near future. (If you didn't know, I am an avid dance/techno/electronica music fan.) Enjoy.

Bang Bang Bang Bang - The Soho Dolls

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Review: "Witch" by Christopher Pike

Witch, by Christopher Pike, is about a teen girl, Julia, who has inherited extraordinary powers from a tradition of good witches. Only the females in the family possess these gifts. She has the power to heal with the touch of her hand. If she looks into water with sunlight shining on it, she can watch people and events in faraway places. Before her mother passed away, she warned her daughter to never look into the water with moonlight shining on it.

However, she accidentally looks into the pond near her home under the moonlight to see a future vision of a young man killed in a late night burglary dying in her own arms. She is shocked by this image and becomes sickened with fear. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at her high school, she meets the young man from her vision. Jim, after she learns his name, happens to be her best friend's new boyfriend!

Julia falls for him, but it is an ill-fated love. She uses her gifts and attempts to change fate so that he would not have to die. The gunman who shot Jim in her vision invokes so much hatred inside her that she feels compelled to destroy him. Can her best friend, Amy, save her before it is too late? She is blessed with supernatural abilities, but she will even risk her own life to save those dear to her. With so many unexpected twists and new surprises, Julia feels overwhelmed by her own actions and beliefs. Nonetheless, Julia's final decision to these answers may come at a terrible cost.

Pike (pseudonym for Kevin McFadden) is a bestselling author of young adult fiction who specializes in the thriller genre. Witch is a teen thriller first published in 1990 and released again with a new cover (240 pages total) in 2001. He is also well-known for his The Last Vampire novel series. I borrowed this book from the library to introduce myself to his writing style.

Although I enjoyed the book, I thought it meandered abruptly in prose and plot development. The storyline just didn't flow well to keep me hungry for more. I never really understood Julia's personality and the effects of her powers. It had a tragic ending (which I won't spoil), and had me wondering in a bewildered way what should I take from this event. I would say that people cannot change their destinies. Fate is already determined for each individual soul, and Julia did something (impulsively and naively) that she had to pay dearly for her mistakes. I thought this book could have been longer (even up to 300 pages to keep it within the teen thriller genre guidelines). I would have also desired to learn more about Julia's family background.

I can remember reading teen thrillers when I was still in grade school. This period initially sparked my interest in paranormal mysteries and romances. If you are a fan of the Fear Street novel series by R.L. Stine, you will definitely enjoy this quick read. This is my first book specifically on witches, and can't wait to read more.

Stay tuned for the next book by Christopher Pike, The Last Vampire.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Review: Descendants of Darkness (1995)

Descendants of Darkness (2000) is a supernatural anime detective series surrounding the lives of two shinigamis (literal translation: guardian of death), Tsuzuki Asato and Kurosaki Hisoka. They are paranormal detectives whose main job is to make sure those lost souls who are dead remain dead. Asato is a 26 years old dorky, cheerful and stunningly handsome veteran shinigami with over 70 years worth of detective experience. His only problem is no one wants to work with him. His newly-appointed young yet equally beautiful partner, Hisoka, is a serious, stubborn 16 year old with an obscure past. Tsuzuki has the power to call upon the twelve shikigami, a glowring fire of mythical creatures that assist him in battle. In each case they pursue and solve, they come closer to the powerful and mysterious serial killer, Dr. Muraki Kazutaka, whose quest is finding the secret of immortality.

Shinigamis look like real humans, but they can heal and regenerate after sustaining injuries. In the meantime, Tsuzuki's relationship with Hisoka grows stronger and closer as they continue to investigate a string of "vampire murders" in Nagasaki. That is not a good thing when Tsuzuki is in the way, and Dr. Muraki kidnaps Hisoka to use him as bait for a trap. Things start getting ugly when Hisoka finally remembers that Dr. Muraki is the one who killed him years ago, and now both Tsuzuki and Hisoka are out for revenge. In addition, there is a dark past to how Tsuzuki died that will not give him peace. As Tsuzuki loses his will to fight and live on, Hisoka becomes determined to save his partner even at the risk of his own existence.

This is a shonen/seinen show. Both genders will both find the character cast attractive for their looks and personalities. Overall, I enjoyed it. The storyline was well-paced and easy to follow (four arcs total). I thought the series could have encompassed more episodes which would have allowed more plot development besides the teasing that was prevalent among the characters. If you are uncomfortable with yaoi (male-to-male attraction) art, however, you may want to stay away from this series.

This series is available to buy and rent on DVD

  • Episodes: 13
  • OP Song: "Eden" by To Destination
  • ED Song: "Love Me" by The Hong Kong Knife




"Eden" by To Destination



"Love Me" by The Hong Kong Knife

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New TV Series: True Blood (HBO)

I am very pleased and excited to announce there will be a *NeW* vampire-supernatural television series, True Blood, based on the Southern Vampires Mysteries novel series by New York Times Bestselling author, Charlaine Harris. It will premiere on the HBO Channel on Sunday, September 7, 2008. Anna Paquin (Rogue in X-Men movie trilogy) will play the leading role, Sookie Stackhouse. Alan Ball Six Feet Under is the series creator.

The synopsis of the story can be found on the HBO Channel official webpage:

Thanks to a Japanese scientist's invention of synthetic blood, vampires have progressed from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight. And while humans have been safely removed from the menu, many remain apprehensive about these creatures "coming out of the coffin." Religious leaders and government officials around the world have chosen their sides, but in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps, the jury is still out.

Local waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), however, knows how it feels to be an outcast. "Cursed" with the ability to listen in on people's thoughts, she's also open-minded about the integration of vampires — particularly when it comes to Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), a handsome 173-year-old living up the road. But as Sookie is drawn into a series of mysteries surrounding Bill's arrival in Bon Temps, that tolerance will be put to the test.


I have been waiting diligently (months!) for this series because the books are wonderful and deserve to be adapted to the television screen. Blood Ties is another television series worth watching (join a petition to save the show for a second series by clicking here.) Stay tuned for more updates. You will find book reviews of the Southern Vampire series on this blog. Please tell everyone about this show today!

GoOD NEWS! The series has been picked up for a second season on HBO. The quick decision to renew can be largely explained by the second episode’s incredible 24 percent increase in viewership over the pilot episode. Click here to read the rest of this post...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Review: Vampire Academy (Mead #1)


Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead, is the first novel in the series. It is the contemporary United States. After two years on the run, best friends Rose (Rosemarie) Hathaway, a Dhampir guardian-in-training, and Lissa (Vasilisa) Dragomir, a Moroi princess, have been caught and taken back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school that educates dhampirs and Moroi students far isolated from humans. Once they return, they face new challenges in addition to catching up in their studies: widespread peer pressure, nasty gossip, cliques, and anonymous threats. Rose, the narrator of the story, endures criticism with a thick skin and vows to become Lissa's official guardian. After the death of her parents and older brother, Lissa must cope with emotional issues and depression as she is the last surviving member in her once-powerful family. Meanwhile she is blessed with special magical powers that she tries to use for good.

Unfortunately, someone wants to abuse it for their own agenda. Lissa finds dead animals around her, and rumors spread fast throughout the school. While she tries to maintain her legendary school reputation and balance a romantic crush with her handsome mentor, Rose must connect the pieces together with the assistance of her friends before someone wants Lissa dead. She also gradually comes to her own realization about what her future holds as a Dhampir guardian and the implications of her psychic bond to Lissa.

Initially, I was hesitant to start this series because I already had my list of favorite vampire-romance authors. In addition, it takes place in a high school setting (Okay, I am even done with college. Could I actually relate to these characters?) Alas, I gave it a try, and my doubts ceased. The first couple of chapters just blew me away!

I loved this book. I felt very drawn to the characters, especially Rose, Lissa, Christian and Dimitri. It is written as a first-person narrative from Rose's perspective. She is very witty and laidback with a sarcastic sense of humor. She cares more about Lissa than her own feelings and is willing to protect her at all costs from criticism and threats. You have to admire her personality because not only is she comedic, but she also takes her guardianship studies very seriously. She is a good and loyal friend. Lissa has the opposite personality (calm and sweet) and becomes depressed the more she uses her powers (healing and compulsion). Dimitri, Rose's mentor/trainer and Lissa's guardian, has molnija marks tattooed on the back of his neck, showing how many Strigoi he has killed. He has complex romantic feelings for Rose. Christian, who witnessed his parents turned Strigoi and murdered by guardians, is feared and ostracized by his peers in the school. Almost everyone ignores him except Lissa and Rose.

There are three groups in this novel: Moroi, Dhampirs and Strigoi. Moroi are mortal vampires who must feed on blood and have an unbreakable bond to earth's magic. The sun's rays weakens their skin, and magic should never be used as a weapon. Dhampirs are hybrids (human and vampire) with incredible strength and dedicate their lives as guardians (personal bodyguards). The Strigoi are the most dangerous -- they are immortal. They have no magic, must stay away from the sun, and feed off other Moroi, who are dwindling in numbers. The Dhampirs protect the Moroi families from the Strigoi. The vampires descend from Eastern Europe so most of them have Slavic/Russian heritage and practice Orthodox Christianity.

This is not just another typical teen novel. The level of violence in this book is PG-rated for more mature audiences due to the occasional sexual and vulgar language. As Mead's debut series novel, I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for the next book in the Vampire Academy series, Frostbite.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Review: Darker than Black (2007)


Darker than Black (2007) is a dark science fiction Japanese anime about a group of secretive powerful psychics, known as Contractors, with special supernatural abilities. An impenetrable and abnormal field known as "Hell's Gate" appeared in Tokyo, which permanently decimated the landscape and altered the sky. An international organization, PANDORA, built a huge wall surrounding the city to control the public and to study what little they know about the paranormal phenomenon.

Various nations around the world secretly use Contractors as spies and agents, often resulting in murderous and violent actions for information. Dolls are emotional beings who can only do what they are programmed to be. Contractors and Dolls usually work for Syndicates and are feared and hated by the human masses. In other words, they lack human emotions, particularly consciousness to killing. Hei (a.k.a. BK201 by the police who want to capture him), one of the most powerful of these Contractors, tries to unlock the mysteries of Hell's Gate and his own past.

I thought this was a very good series. There were a lot of science fiction elements (man vs. supernatural vs. secret govt-sponsored organizations). The contractors' mission is to gain information for their Syndicates on the secrets of the origins of Hell's Gate. They do not exist to kill mankind, which is a plus in my opinion. The dark, thought-provoking storyline symbolizes the struggle of their relationship between their jobs and their existence. The audience is very adult-oriented so young children might become bored watching this series. The music was also excellent. The lead singer of abingdon boys school also performs for T.M.Revolution, another great J-rock techno band. The songs are very memorable. I highly recommend the show.

For some unknown reason, Amazon.com has discontinued the DVD sales. I will update later where you can buy the actual series. You may use Gendou.com or Nipponsei to download the music.

[UPDATE 10/29/2010]: Amazon.com has continued distributing the DVDs. You can purchase the DVDs there. In the meantime, there has also been a second season, Darker than Black: Ryƫsei no Gemini (2009), and a prequel (OAV), Darker than Black - Kuro no Keiyakusha: Gaiden (2010). If you have enjoyed the first season, then I highly recommend watching these two versions. I developed a better understanding of Hei's behavior and the secrets behind Yin.


  • TV Episodes: 26
  • OP Song: "HOWLING" by abingdon boys school; "Kakusei Heroism ~The Hero Without A Name~" by An Cafe
  • ED Song: "Tsukiakari" by Rie fu; "Dreams" by HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR




HOWLING by abingdon boys school



Tsukiakari by Rie fu
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

....and I am back blogging!

Hello visitors! I took a short break to relax and focus on some things happening in my life. I am pleased to announce that I have added two favorite authors to the blog -- Christopher Pike, Christine Feehan and Richelle Mead. They have both written some excellent vampire-romance novels for young adult and older readers. I have finished several books now, and I am very proud of myself because I never the time to finish at such a quick pace during school. This is one advantage to working now and postponing a return to graduate school. I will have more Japanese anime reviews too. They typically take me longer to write but I have continued to pick up on more new shows each month.

QUESTION: If you have any suggestions on how to improve this blog or what book/show I should check out, you can post a comment here!
Stay tuned for more updates!

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