Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Mermaid Forest (2003)

Mermaid Forest (2003) is a historical Japanese anime centered around Japanese mythology on mermaids. It is originally based on Rumiko Takahaski's "Mermaid" manga series. It spans 13 episodes (11 aired + 2 DVD only).

According to an ancient legend, eating mermaid flesh can grant one immortality. However, it only happens to a small percentage of people; the rest either die or become deformed monsters (Lost Souls). Yuta, the protagonist, is one of the lucky ones who has lived for over 500 years as he travels across Japan. During his journeys, he has also met others who lives have been ruined by mermaid flesh.

It is the year, 1936. When he finds a mermaid, he finds a human girl, Mana, in her home. Mermaids must eat young human girls to maintain their youthful appearances. Although he had to kill the mermaids to rescue Mana, they become close travel companions. He also discovers that Mana also consumed mermaid flesh and became immortal. Together, they embark on several investigative journeys hoping to become normal human beings again.

I originally saw the OAVs, Mermaid Forest (1991) and Mermaid Scar (1993). When I heard they were going to remake the series, I was ecstatic. The Mermaid saga is one of my favorite dark fantasy anime series. People worry so much about youth and longevity; this series illustrate the consequences of vanity and immortality. It also exposes our darkest secrets. In the end, be happy for who you are; otherwise, your life may end up as lonely as Yuta, who watches the people in his life come and go because he cannot age nor die.

The show also has excellent music. I have the opening and ending songs below:

OP: "Like an Angel" by Chiaki Ishikawa

ED: "Mizu tamari (Water Puddle)" by kayoko

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)

...Mercy Thompson is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical fae, the less you know, the better. But you can't always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful fae book she previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secretes -- and the fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side -- leaving Mercy to cover for him lest his own father declare Smauel's life forfeit..."

Silver Borne, by Patricia Briggs, is the fifth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Mechanic and coyote shapeshifter, Mercy Thompson, continues to experience more drama and danger as the plot switches from vampires to evil fairies (fae). There are three subplots—1) Mercy's attempt to return a magical, powerful book to a missing fae, 2) her difficulties integrating into Adam's pack, and 3) Samuel's deep misery over being a lone Alpha. It seems the book contains secret knowledge that the fae doesn't want anyone to know. Before Mercy can return the book, some members within Adam's pack wants her dead and gone. Meanwhile, Samuel is so overcome with suicidal depression that his wolf-side takes over, and Mercy must watch him before he goes berserk.

It seems her life has become more risky and dangerous that there is no turning back in this contemporary dark fantasy. She must rescue her friend, Phin, from the evil fae who want the missing book, and calm down the overly tense wolf pack from rebelling against her mate and pack leader, Adam. She also uncovers more facts about the supernatural than she can fully grasp. Her new adventure is full of love, mystery, action and betrayal. If she is not more careful, will she have the tenacity to survive against the odds?

Briggs continues to amaze me with her great character development and creative narration. She combines several subplots into one seamless story. In each book, Mercy experiences new adventures that challenge her personal beliefs and social interactions with others at deeper levels. She cares deeply for others, and is willing to risk her safety for the greater good. Although I believe Mercy wants a stable life, the supernatural continues to pull her into the unknown. This novel did not disappoint; I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for the next book in the Mercy Thompson series, River Marked

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)

The Queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same. Now, with Rose awaiting wrongful execution and Lissa in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and to question those they thought they could trust...

But what what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all? Each other.

Last Sacrifice, by Richelle Mead, is the sixth and final novel in the Vampire Academy series. Before Rose can rejoice and realize Dmitri has returned from the darkness, who will save her? It continues from the previous book, where Rose finds herself indicted for a crime she never committed: the death of the late Queen Tatiana. This tradegy has turned the entire Moroi world upside down. If found guilty, the sentence is death by execution. Rose also receives a mysterious note from the late queen, which reveals Lissa has a younger sibling. This can be the key to Rose's innocence and force the Moroi royalty to recognize a new candidate for the throne: Vasilia (Lissa) Dragomir.

Time is running out, and Rose must act fast. With the help of her friends, she escapes the claustrophobic prison and leaves the Court unexpectedly with Sydney and Dmitri, who vows to protect her under Lissa's orders. All they can do is wait until the Court chooses another king or queen. Rose does not like sitting around; she is all about action and investigation. When she reveals the shocking news to Dmitri and Sydney, they reluctantly decide to search for the missing sibling. During their adventure, they experience possibly the most difficult tests in their lives, which will test their most innermost feelings.

I finished this book (~600 pages) in one day. Literally. It was packed with all sorts of emotions (love, jealousy, fear, and hope). Mead is a very gifted author whose prose flows very well for young adult audiences. That's how much I loved this series.

I am very glad I gave this series a chance. The protagonist, Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway, is very easy to like, relate and sympathize. Although she can act impulsive and irrational, he cares very much for her friends. Essentially, she is an independent free spirit who willing to sacrifice herself for good deeds. I am also delighted that she was able to find true love and happiness in the end.

Although I am no longer a teenager, Last Sacrifice energized me with its suspense, humor and romance. I am also glad she ended this series at six books. I thought it ended appropriately with an ending that will please everyone. I hope Mead continues to write short stories about the characters. I highly recommend the Vampire Academy series!

I have more exciting news: I recently attended the local book signing for Richelle Mead. Over 300 fans showed up to see her in person! She signed my copy of Last Sacrifice. It was such a mesmerizing experience. This is what I learned:

- Mead will continue the series under a different name, Bloodlines. Rose will no longer be the protagonist, but fans will recognize most of the characters. The expected published date is August 2011.

- Preger Entertainment brought the movie rights to the Vampire Academy series. I can honestly say this is definitely an heir to the Twilight mania.

- For more information about the film and casting, join the Facebook page, Official Vampire Academy Movie You can share ideas for casting there.

- Last month, produced a video interview with Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy) and Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse). Both are among my favorite authors. Watch the video here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video: Ghost Child in Historic Savannah Cemetary

If you don't believe in ghosts, this video will change your mind about the supernatural!

In this video, a young man from Cleveland caught sight of a ghost child jumping from a tree and running through the historic cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Even paranormal experts believe this is real footage. Since the figure is glowing in the video, there is no doubt this is a real ghost.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: Occult Academy (2010)

Occult Academy (2010) is a Japanese science fiction anime that takes place in contemporary Japan. It ccontains 13 episodes.

The plot centers around two characters, Maya Kumashiro and Fumiaki Uchida. Maya is the daughter of the deceased former headmaster of Waldstein Academy, which has been thrown into chaos after a series of paranormal events. Walstein Academy is the premier private institution for the study of paranormal disciplines. As a result, it is also known as the Occult Academy. In the future (2012), Fumiaki is a secret agent who travels back to the past (1999) to save the world from alien destruction. Their arrival has caused people to live underground (think of it as loosely based on The War of the Worlds). He must find the Nostradamus Key, which will prevent the apocalypse.

When Fumiaki arrives, he becomes a history teacher at the infamous Occult Academy. He meets Maya, who is the temporary headmaster and a skeptic of the paranormal. She originally had the intention to destroy the school. Fumiaki tells her that the school is ground zero for the apocalyptic event that will destroy the world. He has a specialized cell phone that will allow them to find the Nostradamus Key. This will lead to a more peaceful world in the future. They work together to not only find the truth behind Maya's father death, but also discover what is the cause of the growing paranormal activity in the city.

I enjoyed watching this short series. It was slow in the beginning, but it gradually grew on me when I finally understood the storyline. This is not your typical science fiction show with a surprising twist in the end. It also has comedic and romantic elements. Overall, it was good show that amused me. The creators were able to infuse both paranormal and science fiction into an innovative story. The OST music was also good. I highly recommend it.

I will update this post when the DVD becomes available.

This is the trailer for Occult Academy with English subtitles:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010!

Happy Halloween! I know this year has been more low-key than previous years. I am busy juggling my job and my schoolwork. Nevertheless, I decorated my home with monsters, pumpkins and ghosts. I cannot forget about this special day!

AOL Radio Blog released their Halloween Music Top 100 List. I like this list because it includes scores from legendary movie thrillers, such as Nightmare on Elm Street or The Nightmare Before Christmas. If you are looking for some awesome music for personal pleasure or party planning at the last minute, I highly recommend browsing this link.

I will end this post with the Monster Mash song, by Bobby "Boris" Puckett! In 1962, it reached the number one spot on the Billboard Top Pop Singles chart.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Highschool of the Dead (2010)

Highschool of the Dead (2010) is a graphic Japanese apocalyptic anime. The world is struck by a deadly pandemic: an infectious outbreak turns humans into zombies! A group of high school students in Japan are on a journey to find out what has happened in the world and how to survive in an unstable society. This series contain 12 episodes. Warning: This series is not suitable for children under the ages of 13.

The plot follows Takashi Komuro, a Japanese high school student, who survives the initial outbreak of the pandemic. Other classmates join him including a school nurse. In 48 hours, they face streets filled with horrific zombies, police barricades and loss of electronic communication. When they realize their situation is more dire than expected, they face additional threats, such as challenges to their own moral codes. It is a race for survival in a world that has suddenly collapsed.

I am generally not a major zombie fan, but gave this series a chance. The spread of the infection reminded me of Resident Evil (a movie series which I highly recommend, especially Afterlife). Although it was never revealed what was the source of the infection, it spread quickly across the globe. It happened so fast that not even the U.S. President could escape its wrath!

Overall, I thought there was too much fan service. Every camera angle was centered on accentuated female body parts. I thought the author could been more creative with the story line. The series ended too quickly where the audience does not know the fate of the students. I would probably have to read the manga for additional details. This is a good show to watch on a Friday evening but don't expect a lot of substance. It relies too much on graphic violence and fan service to carry the show.

This series is available for purchase on DVD.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: H20 - Just Add Water (2006-2010)

H20: Just Add Water (2006-2010) is an Australian fantasy television series about three teenage girls, who discover their lives are anything but normal: they have become mermaids! In addition, they have supernatural powers over water. To keep their new abilities a secret from people, they enlist the help of a close friend, who attempts to discover the secret behind their transformations. As a children's show, the girls also encounter different life challenges. The series spans three seasons and contains 78 episodes.

The location is the Gold Coast, Queensland. The three girls -- Emma Gilbert, Cleo Sertori and Rikki Chadwick -- become stranded on Mako Island when their boat stops working. They eventually stumbled upon a pool inside a dormant volcano. When they jump into the pool, a full moon appears overhead and magically transforms them. After becoming mermaids, their new lifestyles have some disadvantages: ten seconds after contact with water, they transform into mermaids. When Lewis McCartney discovers their secret, he promises to help them by unlocking the secrets behind Mako Island.

It is rare that I watch live mermaid shows. I stumbled upon this Australian TV series when I was conducting research on mermaids. Surprisingly, there are not many books, movies or shows about mermaids. Since I am becoming more open-minded to television dramas outside the United States, I could not pass up this opportunity. I watched a few episodes, and instantly became hooked. Due to popular demand, the show spanned three seasons. The primary audience is kids and teens.

I enjoyed this show. The special effects are great. The girls look like real mermaids. I kept watching because I wanted to see the girls in action underwater and they did not disappoint. Each episode followed a typical teen situation which got repetitive at times (then again, I am not a teen). However, I thought the third season was lacking suspense and drama. The first two seasons were much better.

Only two series with a total of 52 episodes were originally planned, but due to popular demand, a third series was filmed. Series one premiered in July 2006, followed by series two in September 2007. Series three first aired in the United Kingdom in October 2009, with the Australian premiere occurring in May 2010. The theme song is "No Ordinary Girl"

This series is available to buy on DVD. You can watch the trailer below:

Theme Music: "No Ordinary Girl"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Supernatural' Becomes an Animated Show

The hit American TV series will become an animated series by the creators of Death Note in Japan! Supernatural: The Animation will be released in February 2011. It will be on BluRay/DVD.

From Ningin:
Supernatural is currently an American television show in its sixth season on the CW. It follows the story of two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester, who hunt the supernatural monsters that roam the Earth. The story is definitely one that is perfect for an anime adaptation, and after seeing this trailer, I am even more excited to watch it next year!

These special BluRay/DVD box-sets will feature remakes of the episodes that have already aired in the live-action, as well as brand new anime-only content. To the delight of many Supernatural fans, it’s also been revealed that Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki themselves will be dubbing a couple of the episodes in English!

I can't wait for a group to sub this series! You can watch the trailer below:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Music: "Fairies / Walking in the Air"

I found this lovely song, and it mesmerized me instantly. This is "Fairies" by the highly talented Chloe Agnew of Celtic Women. It is one of the most beautiful new age songs I have ever heard. This version reminds me of nature, travel, fantasy and time. It sounds innocent and peaceful. Click on the link below for the lyrics.

For those who desire a symphonic metal rock melody, this is the Nightwish (vocalist: Tarja Turunen) version:

Nightwish is also awesome and enchanting for its power.

Here are the lyrics:
We're walking in the air
We're floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly

We're holding very tight
I'm rising in the midnight blue
And finding I can fly so high above with you

All across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills, the forests and the streams

Children gaze, open mouthed
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes thier eyes

We're surfing in the air
we're swimming in the frozen sky
We're drifting over icy mountains floating by

Suddenly swooping low
On an ocean deep
Rousing up a mighty monster from his sleep

We're walking in the air
We're dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Novella: The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (2011)

In February 2011, Charlaine Harris will release a novella based on the popular Sookie Stackhouse novel series. Called The Sooke Stackhouse Companion, it will include everything you need to know about the series plus an exclusive interview with Alan Ball, the executive producer of the True Blood series on the HBO Channel. There will also be a fourth season, which will premiere in summer of 2011! More fantastic news!

According to the description, readers will:
• Tour Bon Temps, the small Louisiana town that Sookie calls home, and visit the houses of her Gran and her sometime vampire lover, Bill
• Prowl around the werewolf and were-panther communities
• Browse through her best friend Tara's dress shop
• Belly up to the bar in Merlotte's, where Sookie works
• Get must-have Bon Temps recipes-including Caroline Bellfleur's famous chocolate cheesecake
• Test themselves with trivia questions from the series

This sounds like an excellent edition for any collection. You can pre-order your copy on today!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Shikabane Hime (2008-2009)

Shikabane Hime ~Corpse Princesse~ (2008-2009) is a dark Japanese action anime series about an undead girl, Hoshimura Makina, who must hunt down 108 undead corpses in order to gain entry into heaven. A secret society of anti-corpse Buddhist priests assist her efforts; her ultimate goal is destroying the ones who that murdered her family. Its English translation is "Corpse Princess." It contains 25 episodes (1st season, Aka: 13 episodes; 2nd season, Kuro: 12 episodes).

Makina turns into a living corpse (shikabane) after she is mysteriously murdered. Tagami Keisei, a Buddhist priest, rescues and brings her to the Kougun Sect, a secret society who monitors and fights the living dead (corpses). After extensive training, Keisei becomes her contractor and becomes a Shikabane Hime: she receives Ingram MAC-11 machine guns to fight them. Shikabanes exist because they either died a tragic death or had a huge regret/obsession in life. They also usually have superhuman strength and human intelligence. However, if her contractor becomes injures or deceases, she also suffers the same fate (corpses lack runes, or life energy) or becomes a shikabane (curse driven by madness).

Meanwhile, Kagami Ouri, a normal high school boy who lives with Keisei in a loving foster home, becomes drawn to the darkness of the shikabane world. When he follows a mysterious black cat, he seems to appear where the corpses are an meets Makina for the first time. Do the two share a destiny together? Can they both defeat the Seven Stars (Shischisei), the destructive shikabane who murdered Makina's family?

Shikabane Hime series is full of action, drama and suspense. It is always a plus to learn more about Japanese mythology. Makina is an isolated character who gradually warms up to those close around her. I never understood the point of Ouri until he becomes her contractor in the second season. The series ends on a cliffhanger where no one knows if Makina and the Shikabane Himes truly destroyed the Seven Stars. Unfortunately, I never saw the 13th episode of the series. The producers decided to make the 13th episode available via DVD only. No one has bothered to buy and sub the episode into English.

Nevertheless, I am not one who focuses on zombies a.k.a. the undead or girls-with-guns plos (with the exception of Resident Evil franchise), but this is an excellent story worth watching. It is currently available to buy and rent on DVD.

Opening Song: "Beautiful FIghter" by angela


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Blood Bank (Vickie Nelson #6)

Blood Bank, by Tanya Huff, is a collection of short stories based on the Blood novel series about Victoria "Vicki" Nelson and Henry Fitzroy. Most of the short stories take place around Blood Pact and Blood Debt. Some stories are historical, chronicling Henry's journeys as a vampire. The collection also includes the TV screenplay for the Blood Ties' episode, "Stone Cold."

This Town Ain't Big Enough: Vicki Nelson, private investigator-turned-vampire must deal with a new vampire encroaching in her territory (Toronto). Can she defeat the elder vampire without sacrificing her life?

What Manner of Man: Set in the early 1800s, Henry tries to track down a spy before their departure to France. (I really enjoyed this story because the previous books did not focus much on Henry's past as a vampire living in Europe.)

The Cards Also Say: A psychic warns Vicki a fanatic wants to kill her. Vicki must find who he is before he stakes her.

Other short stories include...

"The Vengeful Spirit of Lake Nepeakea"
"Someone to Share the Night"
"Another Fine Nest" *
"Critical Analysis" *
"So This Is Christmas"

Tanya Huff officially stated on her blog that there will be no more Blood stories. It also looks like the Blood Ties TV series will not resume either. You can still watch full episodes online or purchase the DVD on Amazon.

I know this review is long overdue. If you are a fan of Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy, I highly recommend the Smoke series about young wizard-in-training, Tony Foster. He was a reoccurring minor character in the Blood books. In the Smoke series, he has a major role. You can read more about Henry and his new life with Tony in Vancouver, British Columbia. I also hope Tanya writes more Smoke novels. Overall, it was a pleasure to read Tanya Huff's novels over the decade, and she will remain one of my favorite paranormal authors of all time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music Video: "Opheliac" by Emilie Autumn

I realized it has been over a year since I posted a song by Emilie Autumn. This song is part of her Opheliac (2006) album, her third full-featured album to receive full distribution around the world. Her music is typically a mixture of neo-classical, medieval and electronica. She writes, performs and produces most of her songs. If you listen to her other songs, she is very gifted on the violin and her lyrics can be very dark and emotional. Nonetheless, I think she is great and recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of music.

"Opheliac" by Emilie Autumn

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Supernatural 6th Season Premieres September 24, 2010

The sixth season of Supernatural will air on Fridays at 9:00 pm ET in the United States on the CWTV Channel and will premiere on September 24, 2010.

From the CWTV website:
Season 6 will be a season of mystery and shadow. Heaven and Hell have been left in complete disarray since the apocalyptic events of Season 5. And now, monsters, angels and demons roam across a lawless and chaotic landscape. And so Dean Winchester, who has retired from hunting and sworn never to return, finds himself being pulled back into his old life -- pulled back by none other than Sam Winchester, who has escaped from Hell. The two reunite to beat back the rising tide of creatures and demon-spawn, but they quickly realize that neither are who they used to be, their relationship isn't what it used to be, and that nothing is what it seems.

I can hardly wait. Mark your calendars and stay tuned!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New York Man Survives 39-Story Fall from Apartment

Some people are wondering whether divine intervention played a role in this miraculous story. A New York man, 22, survived a 39-story fall from an apartment complex after he tried to commit suicide. He landed on a parked car where he broke his legs. Meanwhile, the owner of the parked car admitted he rarely parks in that zone. He wonders if the rosary beads in his car saved the man's life.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Tsukihime Lunar Legend (2006)

Tsukihime Lunar Legend (2006) is a Japanese supernatural horror anime show. It takes place in contemporary Japan. The show can be very graphic, so viewer discretion is advised. It also contains 12 episodes.

Shiki Tohno is a second-year high school student. In his childhood, he suffered a life-threatening injury. When he regained consciousness, he could see "death lines" (Mystic Eyes of Death Perception) which allowed him to slash and kill objects with perfect accuracy. However, this new ability gives him major headaches and weakens his overall strength. He wears eyeglasses so that he cannot see the death lines and live a normal life. After this incident, he was forced to live with distant relatives. Eight years later, he was summoned to return to the Tohno family house. There, he has a sister, Akiha Tohno, who has assumed responsibility of the household after the death of their father. With two personal maids, the Tohno family come from a wealthy background. As a result, Shiki has difficulty adjusting back to this traditional lifestyle.

On his way home, he meets a mysterious blonde woman with red eyes in the park. He later finds out her name is Arcueid Brunestud, a very old vampire princess whom he "murdered" using his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. However, he does not remember the incident. Since his skills are highly useful, Arcueid recruits him to help her fight Roa. She is in a much weaker state (she can only use 30% of her power) and uses the remaining power to suppress her vampiric urges (e.g. need for blood). Meanwhile, Shiki notices his classmate, Ciel, has supernatural abilities and often rescues him when trouble arises. He later founds out Ciel used to be Roa's vessel in a previous reincarnation and fights for the Church to regain her humanity.

As Shiki helps Arcueid with her supernatural cases, he also investigates the lineage of the Tohno household. When he discovers Akiha drinking blood from one of the maids, he is determined to understand what really happened eight years ago. This will put him in very dangerous territory. Will he survive long enough to uncover the truth?

I found this series on Anime News Network when I was looking for similar titles under subject terms "vampires" and "horror" and "supernatural." Although this show is short, the plot was very interesting and suspenseful. There were times when I often questioned Shiki's behavior because he can come across as indifferent and uncaring although the accident left him mentally paralyzed. The level of action picks up dramatically in the last few episodes when Shiki fights the new reincarnation of Roa, which also answers many secrets about the Tohno family. The ending is also emotional when one of the main characters dies. Overall, it you are looking for a short and serious vampire anime, then I highly recommend this show.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)

"By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargaiend for.

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan--and she's out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close rlationship with its sexy Alpha), it won't be Mercy's blood Marsilia is after.

It'll be her friends."

Bone Crossed, by Patricia Briggs, is the fourth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy, a coyote shapeshifter, is learning to move on because she survived one of the darkest periods in her entire life: rape victim. Meanwhile, she receives an unexpected guest in her home. Stefan, a vampire friend who appears nearly shaken, drained and decomposed, needs blood fast. Fortunately, two alpha werewolves (Adam and Samuel) are with her to help him. Worse, Mercy discovers a huge magical bone-crossed painting on her garage store. It is a warning from Marsilia, the Vampire Queen in her area, that she is a traitor and they are watching her. When one member of Adam's pack nearly dies in an event instigated by the vampires, Mercy realizes her own friends are also targets.

Fearing for her safety, the werewolves perssuade her to leave the Tri-Cities and investigate a haunting in her best friend's house in Spokane, Oregon until they can resolve the local situation. A healthy Stefan agrees to protect her from the other vampires. What she did not expect is that an ancient vampire, known as the Monster, is responsible for the hauntings and terrors inflicted upon her friend's family. He is the most powerful vampire she has ever encountered. Can Mercy defeat the Monster and save her friends in the Tri-Cities?

I enjoyed this novel very much. Briggs is a very talented writer who can combine subplots and different supernatural characters smoothly. There is plenty of action, humor and suspense that keeps you wanting more. Like Harris, Briggs explores the supernatural world in depth: fae, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and shapeshifters. Most importantly, I like the way Briggs explores Mercy's vulnerable side. Although she acts like a heroine, she also has feelings and thoughts too. She is a good person who thinks highly of her friends' well-being.

Since this novel was short (~300 pages), I finished it in four days. What surprised me was how Adam made her a member of the pack so quickly. Although I knew he wanted to protect her, this may cause more problems for her since she is not a werewolf. As his official mate, she will have to adjust to her new role in the pack. The next novel will actually discuss this ordeal for Mercy. Overall, I highly recommend this series. Good series with werewolves are hard to find these days.

Stay tuned for the fifth novel in the Mercy Thompson series, Silver Borne.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Daily Mail: Boy, 13, Struck by Lightning on Friday the 13th

Yikes! Talk about major bad luck. From the UK's Daily Mail:
LONDON (Aug. 15) -- Friday the 13th proved especially unlucky for one 13-year-old British boy, who was struck by lightning at exactly 13:13 on the much-feared date.

The teenager was among a crowd of 170,000 people watching an aeronautical display at the Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival in the east of England when he was zapped by a bolt from the sky, reported The Mirror. He suffered minor burns and is expected to make a full recovery.

Now you know why people fear Friday the 13th. He is very lucky to be alive!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Winston Churchill and UFO Conspiracy

There is an conspiracy theory spreading on the Internet that Winston Churchill, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, held classified reports about a possible UFO during World War II.
It's a conspiracy theory worthy of the "X-Files," and it goes like this: Churchill, then the prime minister, apparently ordered a cover-up of an encounter between a Royal Air Force bomber and an unidentified flying object during World War II. The reason: Churchill feared that news of the incident would create public panic and a loss of faith in religion.

He ordered that the information about the possible UFO incident remain secret for a period of 50 years. Decades later, people now have access to these files and the new information (e.g., photos, reports) is quite profound and alarming.

Check out the video below:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: Mai HiME (2004-2005)

Mai HiME (2004-2005) is a contemporary Japanese snime series where several high school girls must engage in battle to protect the school and save the world. This series contains 26 episodes.

Mai Tokiha and her younger brother, Takumi, have received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Fuuka Academy, a K-12 private school. They take advantage of this opportunity to live better and normal lives. However, rumors spread that there are monsters that lurk in the shadows and cause trouble. Mai realizes that she and twelve other female classmates possess the supernatural powers of HiME (Highly-advanced Materializing Equipment), which allows them to fight the monsters (orphans). Each HiME can materialize their own abilities (elements) and can summon metallic guardians (childs).

Mai learns to adapt to these changes as she tries to take care of her sickly brother and to avoid trouble whenever possible. With two partners (Mikoto Minagi and Natsuki Kuga) by her side, they investigate the origins of HiMEs and an evil organization (Searrs Foundation) is responsible for the creatures appearing on their school grounds. With different personalities and backgrounds, all thirteen girls must determine who they truly care about and why they want to fight. They must survive a deadly game where the loser not only sacrifices her soul but also loses the one they love.

I watched this show several years ago, and it still remains as one of my top ten best anime shows of all time. The main cast are mostly female, and they are smart, funny, and dangerous. The story development, characters' personalities, and action sequences were excellent. While there are some romance and comedy effects, this is a serious show where these destined female characters fight to discover the truth about HiME warriors.

The music is also phenomenal. I still play some of the songs, especially the tracks by the extremely talented composer, Yuki Kaijura. If you have not heard of her, please listen to her music on YouTube! She has produced background songs for many anime shows. Her music is full of energy and emotion, and she even has her own language!

Overall, I highly recommend this show. Although the creators produced another series that is set in an alternate universe (Mai-Otome), Mai-HiMe is considered the better series. This show is available to buy and rent. I also included a bonus track below. Please check it out! Enjoy!

Shining Days - Minami Kuribayashi

Kimi Ga Sora Datta - Aki Misato

Bonus: Mezame - Yuki Kaijura

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Witch Fury (Elemental Witches #4)

Sarafina Connell is having the worst week of her life. It takes an even darker turn when an infamous playboy kidnaps her and reveals a world she never knew existed....

It's a world where magick is real, and where Sarafina is given a chance to join a secret cabal that is bent on gaining absolute power. They could use a woman like her -- a witch with an untapped gift fo creating fire. But she isn't about to get in league with the devil...."

Witch Fury, by Anya Bast, is the fourth book in the Elemental Witches series. After burying her beloved foster mother in Kentucky, Sarafina returns to Chicago where she can live a normal life and forget about her tormented childhood memories. Before she can grieve, her life changes forever when Duskoff International CEO and heartthrob, Stefan Faucheaux, kidnaps her and her dog, Gossett, from her home. The warlock tells Sarafina that she has a powerful, untapped gift – she is a fire witch. Initially, she laughed because she thought he was insane but she began to make the connection when her biological mother died in a fiery blaze. She also meets an Atrika daemon named Bai who wants something precious from her.

Meanwhile, a group of witches storm into the house where she was held captive. Theo Winters, the group leader, takes Sarafina with her as a prisoner, whom he assumes is a warlock. They return to the Chicago coven, the witches’ headquarters, where Sarafina informed her hosts of Stefan’s plans and the Atrika daemons. The coven witches panic because daemons should not have the ability to travel between Earth and Eudae (daemon world). Worse, aaemon magick (the elemental witches) has no effect on daemons. Their only weakness is copper, and their blood is acidic on human contact.

Thomas Monahan, the coven leader, orders Theo to guard and train Sarafina. She meets the other witches and gradually gains control of her untapped power. When she volunteers to spy on Stefan, Theo almost loses his mind. Over time, he has developed sexual and romantic feelings for her, but he fears getting close to her because his previous two lovers suffered horrible deaths. Can he gain the confidence to tell Sarafina his true feelings, or will he lose her forever to Stefan and his Atrika bodyguards?

I really enjoyed this novel, especially last few chapters. I was hesitant to read this novel because the third novel disappointed me with bad plot development and poor pacing. Nevertheless, Bast's talent emerged in this story with action, comedy, and suspense. The sexual imagery was intense and realistic. Despite the loss throughout the plot, it tied up loose ends and finished on a positive note. I feel glad that I picked this author last year.

Sadly, this is the final installment in the Elemental Witches series. Overall, this was an excellent series. I enjoyed reading about Mira (Witch Fire), Isabelle (Witch Blood), Claire (Witch Heart), and Sarafina (Witch Fury). Each woman brought their own unique experiences to the coven. Their lovers (Jack, Thomas, Adam, and Theo. respectively) also become better men. I highly recommend this series.