Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Shadow Walker (Stormwalker #3)

Winter descends on the town of Magellan, and new evil comes to call.

Shadow Walker, by Allyson James, is the third novel in the Stormwalker series. It is winter season in Magellan, Arizona, a high-desert town where the paranormal is normal. Hopi County sheriff Nash Jones is chasing stormwalker Janet Begay down a lonely highway in the desert when the ground collapses beneath them. After tumbling two hundred feet into an underground cavern, she manages to escape with unconscious Nash from her dragon shape-shifter boyfriend, Mick. However, she can't get out of her mind that something dark and dangerous wants her underneath those caverns.

After Mick checks out the sinkhole, his behavior becomes strange and erratic. He has become "touched by shadows", becoming a clear danger to Janet and her friends. Meanwhile, a new county inspector is intent on shutting down her hotel business. Janet must also deal with two other surprises -- her Navajo grandmother takes up residence near her and her elusive younger sister who shares the same Beneath powers. Without much time, Janet must free Mick before she loses him forever.

Janet faces her greatest danger when an evil force enslaves the love of her life. The tables have turned: she must rescue Mick before he becomes a danger to dragons and humans alike. Unwilling to sacrifice both her hotel business and her love for Mick, she journeys with her friends to put an end to the shadows.

This was a very entertaining novel with action, romance, and suspense. Janet is very brave to confront a powerful evil witch to save Mick's life. The power of love is an amazing beauty, and Allyson James captures it perfectly in Mick and Janet's relationship. Overall, I enjoy it and can't wait to read the next novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Stormwalker series, Nightwalker.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Bloodlines: Original Beginning from Adrian's Perspective

If you read the first book, Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead, you will learn that the author had originally planned to write the new series from Adrian's perspective. Well, that changed when Sydney became the protagonist. Nevertheless, Mead provided her fans with this exclusive peak at the original beginning of Bloodlines. If you want to know what happened to Adrian after his relationship ended with Rose Hathaway, check out the original chapter below. I must warn it is truly heartbreakening: Bloodlines - Original Chapter One Click here to read the rest of this post...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)

Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.

First Drop of Crimson, by Jeaniene Frost, is the first novel in the Night Huntress World books, a spinoff series within the same world of the Night Huntress books featuring Cat Crawfield and master vampire, Bones. The story takes place a year after the events in At Grave's End and Destined for an Early Grave. Denise McGregor became a widow after her human husband died in a gruesome and terrifying ghoul attack. As a result, she wants no part of the supernatural world as she tries to resume a normal life. The night is not safe for mortals, and Denise knows all too well what lurks in the shadows.

Unfortunately, her family has a dark secret. An ancient ancestor stumbled upon dark magic and became an immortal shapeshifter. He escaped his demon master, who has marked Denise as prey. The demon orders Denise to find her missing ancestor if she does not want to suffer more human loss in her family. She turns to Spade, Bones' best friend and a mysterious master vampire, for help. He has walked the earth for centuries vowing never to love another human again. He grudgingly accepts her request, and travels across continents to search for clues on her missing ancestor. What Spade does not realize, though, is Denise may arouse his deepest hungers. Before she can become his mate, they must survive the nightmare together.

This spin-off book exceeded my expectations with a surprising twist. I was afraid that the author would go the cliche route with Spade turning Denise into a vampire against her will. In that case, there would have been no originality in the plot. Instead, Denise made the choice to become a supernatural being so that she can live an eternal life with Spade. That was both romantic and innovative on the author's part. The beginning is dull, but it becomes more interesting in the second half of the book. The other main cast--Bones, Cat, and Mencheres--make cameo appearances and help Spade with the critical mission.

I am delighted that Frost made this spin-off series so that fans of the Night Huntress series can get a flavor of the supporting cast. After reading five back-to-back novels about Cat's adventures (who finally turns into a vampire), it was time for a change. Denise and Spade share painful secrets but with their resilience they will make a great couple. Overall, I highly recommend this novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Night Huntress series, Eternal Kiss of Darkness. This spin-off book focuses on Mencheres's love life.
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Review: xxxHOLic (2006-2011)

xxxHOLic (2006) is a Japanese horror anime based in contemporary Japan. It include 24 episodes and three original animated videos (OAVs): Shunmuki, Ro, and Adayume. It also takes place in the same universe as Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE.

The plot focuses on Kimihiro Watanuki, a high school student with a cursed gift: he has the ability to see evil spirits (yokai and ayakashi). In addition, these spirits are invisible to others and have a strong attachment to him. One day, he stumbles upon a shop that grants wishes. He meets a mysterious witch named Ichihara Yuuko, and requests to have his ability to see spirits removed. She claims to have the means to end his torment, but she never works for free. The price, according to Yuko, must be of equal value. Therefore, as payment, he temporarily becomes Yuko's part-time employee, doing small errands and household chores.

Meanwhile, Himawari Kunogi, Watanuki's love interest, and Shizuka Domeki, a classmate who Watanuki detests, occasionally join him in his work as per Yuko's request. The three become increasingly close despite Watanuki's annoyance with Dōomeki. Although Watanuki becomes happy with the new friendships he makes, he becomes concerned about Yuko, promising he will try to grant her wish. As the series continues, Watanuki becomes more adept with the spiritual world during each supernatural encounter.

Later in the show, there is a crossing plotline with the concurrent series, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. It is revealed that Yuko was accidentally frozen by a powerful wizard, Clow Reed. As the magic binding her immortality begins to fade, Yuko also loses her ability to maintain the shop's magical existence. Before she dies, she tells Watanuki that he will no longer have to see demons. However, he chooses to retain his ability with his now fully-grown magical powers and becomes the shop's new owner.

If you are a fan of the Japanese manga artist group, Clamp, xxxHOLic (pronounced "Holic") is a good supernatural anime to watch with its balance of light and dark moments. With a mixture of horror and comedy, the plot is very imaginative and mind-blowing. After the first season, the anime becomes inspiring, beautiful, and heartbreaking when Yuko's ultimate fate is revealed. The Clamp illustrations are memorable due to their striking designs: patterns built into the images, highly detailed hair, heavily stylized eyes, elongated limbs, and elaborate clothing. It may seem slow in the beginning, but it becomes entertaining after several episodes. I highly recommend the anime. It should be available to rent and buy on DVD. Opening Song: "19sai" by Shikao Suga Click here to read the rest of this post...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher, is the fourth novel in the Dresden Files series. Depressed and devastated over his girlfriend's newly acquired taste for blood in Grave Peril, Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in Chicago, has lost motivation and determination. He has alienated his friends and cannot pay his rent. Although he knows the truth on what happened that ill-fated night, both the vampires and wizards are looking for any reason to end his life.

Just when he thought things could not worsen, the Winter Queen of Faerie pays him a visit. She has an offer that Harry cannot refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold that his faerie godmother has over him. When he learns of a possible cure for his girlfriend's condition, he takes on the case. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen of Faerie's knight and clear the Winter Queen's name.

Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. But he needs the money and a major breakthrough to resurrect his reputation among the wizards. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.

Summer Knight was riveting action filled with suspense and fantasy. While this novel was less romantic than its predecessors, the plot was necessary to save Harry from his beleaguering depression. He was a desperate man looking for any opportunity to eliminate doubts among the wizards. While he has friends who believe in him, he also had many enemies who would have not mind trading him off to evil foes.

In order to understand Harry's suspicions, the faerie world in the The Dresden Files is dark and dangerous, unbeknownst to humans in the mortal world. Since this was his most dangerous case, Harry miraculously and courageously solved the murder of the summer knight. Although he loses a lead on the cure for his girlfriend's conditions, I have no doubt that he will find another option in future novels. This plot also gives me hope that Harry (with his strong sense of justice) will develop the strength to carry on and become the best investigator in the supernatural world.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files, Death Mask.
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Jigoku Shoujo (2005-2009)

Jigoku Shoujo ~Hell Girl~ (2005-2009) is a Japanese horror anime based in contemporary Japan. It spanned three seasons with a total of 78 episodes.

Season 1 - Hell Girl (2005-2006) 
The show focuses on the existence of a supernatural justice system that allows people to take revenge on the perpetrators through the Hotline to Hell (a website that can only be accessed at midnight) of the mysterious "jigoku shoujo" (literal translation: hell girl). Rumor has it that if you post a grudge there, the Jigoku Shoujo will appear and drag whoever torments you into the inferno. However, those who have the Hell Girl execute their vengeance will also go to Hell when they die. Very little is known about the girl—all we know for sure is that she lives with her equally enigmatic grandmother, that three magical straw dolls accompany and serve her. Shibata Hajime, a freelance journalist, begins to investigate these claims out of curiosity. Not only does he find out that the rumors are true, but he learns his daughter, Tsugume, has a strange connection to Enma Ai, the Hell Girl. Together, they try to end the operation.

Season 2 - Hell Girl: Two Mirrors (2006-2007) 
Ai Enma, her real name, once again returns as the Jigoku Shoujo, who uses the online service, Hotline to Hell, to allow people to post their grudges on their tormentors, sending them straight to Hell. In exchange, the users of the website will end up in Hell after they die. Meanwhile, a mysterious girl with purple eyes called Kikuri appears and seems to have strange intentions towards Ai and the entire online operation.

Season 3 - Hell Girl: Three Vessels (2008-2009) 
After Ai Enma's supposed death, her three helpers, Ichimoku Ren, Wanyuudou and Hone-Onna live out their lives in relative peace. This is suddenly shattered when Kikuri returns to recruit them. Meanwhile, Ai mysteriously reappears from the dead and uses the body of a young schoolgirl, Yuzuki Mikage, to continue the online operation.

Jigoku Shoujo was a popular anime series in the last decade. Revenge, injustice, hatred, and the nature of human emotions are common themes throughout the series. The show also incorporated Japanese mythology and elements of horror. The show was scary enough to frighten me on several occasions, and set the stage to seriously discuss human nature through our desire for vengeance. The sequels would later focus on Enma Ai’s motivations and background. It received such a cult following that a live-action version was produced in Japan. Thus, Jigoku Shoujo has become a must-see classic for anime horror fans.
This anime is available to rent and buy on DVD.

Opening Theme: " Sakasama No Chou ~The Upside Down Butterfly ~" by Snow

Ending Theme: ""Karinui" (かりぬい; "Basting/ Temporary Sewing") by Mamiko Noto Click here to read the rest of this post...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review: Biting Cold (Chicagoland Vampires #6)

But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he'll stop at nothing to get the artifact for himself. No mercy allowed. NO rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.

Biting Cold, by Chloe Neill, is the sixth novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series. Merit, a 28-year-old vampire turned against her will, has become acclimated to Chicago's vampire underground. In less than a year, she has become Sentinel (A soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch) for Cadogan House, one of three officially-recognized Chicago vampire residences. As she walks knee-deep into the supernatural community, she discovers more dark--and terrifying--secrets. 

Right before her eyes, her master and lover, Ethan, returns from the dead. Her sweet joy is short-lived when her best friend, Mallory, rogue a witch addicted to black magic, is on the prowl to steal an ancient artifact, Maleficium, that could unleash catastrophic evil and destruction. Both Ethan and Merit must race across the American Midwest before anyone else touches it first. Furthermore, Merit discovers another old enemy is hunting her, and she must do whatever it takes to protect Chicago--and the world--from his uncontrollable vigilante justice.

It has been a while since I have read a Chicagoland Vampires novel. The waiting period was totally worth it. Merit and I are around the same age, so I can relate to her personality. Less than 350 pages, this novel was packed with action, suspense, romance, and sexual intimacy. It was very easy to read, and the plot kept me very engaged. Neill has an excellent young adult novel series that I look forward to reading. The reference to different landmarks also keeps me updated with my undergraduate memories in Chicago. I was disappointed to have finished this novel so soon, but I can't wait for the next release in winter 2013!

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series, House Rules. Click here to read the rest of this post...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher, is the third novel in the Dresden Files series. Harry Dreseden is the only professional wizard in Chicago. He has faced some pretty terrifying foes in his career so far -- giant scorpions, crazy vampires, and psychotic werewolves. Despite the dangers in his job, he has always managed to defeat the enemies.

A new case has him searching all over the city, and he has no clue what is the cause behind it. The spirit world has gone postal! Ghosts all over Chicago are causing trouble, and it takes more than simple exorcism spells to defeat these lost souls. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone--or something--is wreaking havoc across the city.

To make matters worse, his fae godmother has re-entered his life. She wants Harry to fulfill his end of the deal: his soul in the Nevernever land. However, too much trouble is happening for Harry to leave behihnd his friends and the love of his life. When his colleagues become victims to this deadly magic, Harry will need all the help he can get before his soul is taken for good. He will face former and powerful enemies who don't mind preparing an early grave -- with his name attached to a tombstone.

This is one of the longer novels in the Dresden Files series, but I enjoyed the plot very much. It was a perfect Halloween treat. It contained every supernatural element you could imagine -- ghosts, fae, vampires, you name it. Butcher introduces a new main character whom I hope to read more in future novels. While Harry tries to play the hero figure, he is not entirely successful when the person he loves falls victim to the supernatural. Torn by his love and profession as a wizard, he will spend the next cases trying to find a cure so that she can return by his side. This is a sad cliffhanger, but it forces Harry to take his job seriously. This series continues to keep me on the edge, and I cannot wait to pick up the next novel.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files series, Summer Knight.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Adult Series: Age of X (Richelle Mead)

Are you a major fan of Vampire Academy and its spinoff, Bloodlines?

Richelle Mead is launching a new adult paranormal/science fiction series, Age of X. The first novel's title is Gameboard of the Gods. It has the popular appeal of the Hunger Games, but includes her usual traits of sexy, irresistable characters and relentless action and suspenes. I am looking forward to reading this new series! The official release date is June 4, 2013.

This is the official description below from her Facebook fan page:

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels #6)

"Some people have everything figured out--Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles."

Gunmetal Magic, by Ilona Andrews, is the first novel in the world of Kate Daniels. The story centers around Andrea Nash, former knight and best friend of Kate Daniels. Her secret is out: she is a bouda shapeshifter, and she's a rare breed--a beastkin. All her life, ANdrea worked her way up the Order, but a forced retirement disrupted her identity. Fortunately, she is putting her life back together by working for Kate's new private investigative firm, Cutting Edge.

When several shapeshifters are found dead at a dig site, Andrea has been assigned to solve the murder case/ Unfortunately, she must work with Raphael Medrano, former lover and the male alpha of Clan Bouda. When the investigation leads her team to new superantural sections of Atlanta, she needs all the help and expertise she can get to fight this dangerous enemey. Because dealing with Egyptian gods, Norse legends, and other unknown magic is beyond her comfort zone.

I had mixed feelings about this novel because Andrea Nash was a side character in the Kate Daniels world. After I read a couple of chapters, I became hooked on her character. Andrea suffered a horrible childhood, but trained herself to become an invincible fighter and survivor. Her story--both her life with the Order and the Pack--is both commendable and courageous. Furthermore, she found love and made peace with her shapeshifter side. I enjoyed this novel very much.

The book also includes the novella, Magic Gifts. Next month, I will update this post with a short review. Overall, the Kate Daniels Universe is amazing to read. I also believe this series gets better with every new release.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Rises
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Firewalker (Stormwalker #2)

Janet Begay's Crossroads Roads has attracted the supernatural from the day it opened. Witches, Changers, and a mouthy magic mirror have decided to make it their home. But a new, dark power is rising--this time inside Janet herself.
Firewalker, by Allyson James, is the second novel in the Stormwalker series. Janet possesses two powers inside her: her Stormwalker gift from her Navajo grandmother and the Beneath magic from her evil goddess mother. Her sexy dragon boyfriend, Mick, knows the terrifying magic can overwhelm Janet at any moment, but he vowed to protect her from the other dragons who want her dead. With Mick set to trial for disobeying the dragon council's official orders, Janet must behave to not rouse suspicion that she's a danger to humankind.

When a mysterious corpse is found near the Crossroads Hotel, Sheriff Nash Jones suspects Janet--after all, her magic is both unstable and powerful. While Janet has an alibi, even she cannot be sure that she didn't commit the crime. Now, both Janet and Mick must investigate who is really responsible for the murder. Before they can do that, Janet must learn how to control her burgeoning powers. If she shows any sign of weakness, the dragons ("firewalkers" in Native American folklore) and supernatural guardians from Native American folklore will come after her with one strike. Her time is running out.

This is another wonderful addition by Allyson James. Filled with mystery, sexy romance, and adventure, he author pushes the protagonist, Janet, to come to terms with her dual powers. Janet has the choice to give up her Beneath magic, but she realizes that it is part of who she is and doing so could kill her. She wins the trust of friends as she faces the biggest decision in her life. The supernatural world also gets more complicated when Janet discovers an evil secret lurking in the community.

If you have the chance, please read the Stormwalker-inspired novella, "Double Hexed", in Hexed. The short story narrates Cassandra's background. It is also highly recommended to read after Firewalker. Stay tuned for the next novel in the Stormwalker series, Shadow Walker.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lost Girl Third Season Premieres January 2013

Looking for a supernatural show loosely similar to Blood Ties (2007)? I highly recommend Lost Girl , the popular Canadian fantasy show about a sexy succubus who learns how to juggle both fae politics and life as a private investigator in the human world. From the Huffington Postt

Good news for fans of the Fae: The Huffington Post has exclusively learned that Syfy has renewed "Lost Girl" for a third season, which will arrive on the network in January 2013.

Canadian fans may already be aware that the frisky drama, which chronicles life in an underground community called the Fae, had been renewed north of the border several months ago, but the Syfy renewal means that American "Lost Girl" fans won't be left behind as the 13-episode third season unfolds.

The 22-episode second season of "Lost Girl," which stars Anna Silk as a succubus named Bo, is currently airing on Syfy on Mondays, but as of July 20, the supernatural drama is moving to Fridays at 10 p.m. ET.

And here is the rest of it.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Fool Moon, by Jim Butcher, is the second novel in the Dresden Files series. Harry Dresden is the only professionally-trained wizard in Chicago. His investigation business has been slow, and it's been months since he has heard from the Chicago Police Department's Special Investigations Unit. He's also on bad terms with Karrin Murphy, CPD Lieutenant and sometimes accomplice. Just when it looks like he cannot afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his supernatural expertise.

At the scene of the crime, Harry discovers a brutally-mutilated corpse that is almost unrecognizable. Worse, there were animal markings that resembled those of a wild dog or wolf. The killing also took place on the night of a full moon. After seeing these three clues, Harry can guess where this case is headed. Thus, he will need all the manpower he can assemble if he wants to make it out of this one alive in one piece.
This is another fantastic addition to the Dresden Files series. Harry finds himself in a complex web of murder and mayhem that eventually proves too magically overwhelming for him. With his close companions and allies, he is able to solve the mystery and live another day. Butcher's storytelling skills are superb, and the main cast feels work well together. This novel also fits nicely with upcoming Halloween.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files series, Grave Peril

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: Romeo x Juliet (2007)

Romeo x Juliet (2007) is a Japanese romance anime based on William Shakespeare's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It is a story of a young and tragic love set in the futuristic aerial city of Neo Verona. It contains 24 episodes. This show contains 24 episodes.

Fourteen years ago, Leontes Montague and his men led a bloody coup and murdered all of the members of House Capulet. However one survivor, Juliet, was able to escape thanks to a group of Capulet loyalists.

In the present, the Montague family rules the kingdom with an iron fist and oppresses anyone who opposes their rule. Juliet, now a 16-year-old girl, fights against House Montague's oppression by becoming a masked vigilante known as "The Red Whirlwind." She is unaware that she is the last descendent of the House Capulet family. While attending the Rose Ball hosted by the Montagues with a friend, Juliet meets Romeo, the Montague prince. Both of them deeply fall romantically in love at first sight.

Unlike his father, Romeo is a kind and humble man who is opposed to his father's cruelty and shares many ideals with Juliet. Unfortunately for them, Capulet loyalists are planning a rebellion to overthrow House Montague while Leontes is obsessed with destroying the threat of House Capulet permanently. As these star-crossed lovers face many challenges and adventures together which will strengthen their love, an ancient secret hidden within Neo Verona is slowly revealed.

“Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.”

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Although the anime borrows mostly from Shakespeare's story, the manga adaptation differs extensively from the original. So, I was intrigued to see where the producers and screenwriters were heading with this romantic tragedy. The story takes place in a mythical medieval realm, and a great enchanted tree (Escalus) supports life on Neo Verona. The tree of life is a mystical concept alluding to the interconnection of all life on our planet. Various fantasy- and science fiction-based anime, in particular, have used this symbol (e.g., Sailor Moon R, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Genesis of Aquarion).

The show did not disappoint. It was very focused, energetic and The writers incorporated characters from other Shakespeare plays as a nice twist. There were a lot of action and romantic narratives in the first half, and the fantasy element became more prominent in the second half of the anime. I also loved Lena Park's version of "You Raise Me Up" (both English and Japanese versions). She made this Josh Groban hit song sound so both innocent and romantic. In 2009, Romeo × Juliet was dubbed into English and released by Funimation Entertainment.

Overall, I highly recommend this anime adaptation.

Inori ~You Raised Me Up~ (Japanese Version)

Inori ~You Raised Me Up~ by Lena Park (English Version)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Stormwalker (Stormwalker #1)

"When lightning strikes, passion ignites..."

Stormwalker, by Allyson James, is the first novel in the Stormwalker series. It takes place in Arizona near the Death Valley region. Half-Navajo Janet Begay is a Stormwalker who is capable of controlling the raw elemental power of stormy weather. Its power is so immense that sometimes it threatens to overwhelm her. Felt like an outcast in her own family, her escape was her prized motorcycle, chasing the storms and finding the truth about her mother's death. When she meets Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed muscular hiker, she discovers that he can absorb and calm down the power raging inside her. Eventually, she falls in love with him, and both explore new depths of sex and passion that reach unimaginable levels.

After traveling the country, Janet returns to Arizona to settle and establish a hotel business in the desert town of Magellan (Hopi County). She receives a request to investigate the disappearance of the police chief's daughter. Unfortunately, the barren land is full of vortexes, gateways that connect the human world with the mystical realm of Beneath. It is also where Janet's evil mother lays trapped and ready to escape. After encountering skin-walkers and discovering more deadly mysteries, Janet receives assistance from unexpected allies: a shape-shifting coyote god; a talking magic mirror; Nash, the law-abiding sherff who can't wait to arrest her; and her boyfriend, Mick, whose true identity still remains unknown to her. Mick can control fire, and Nash can absorb any form of magic without breaking a sweat.

Ultimately, Janet must trust her friends when she ventures into a land where no human has survived alone. She must also decide in which world does her happiness exist. She is about to face the greatest danger ever: defeating her mother.

I stumbled across the Stormwalker series when I finished a novella by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels series). The Janet Begay character seemed interesting and similar to another Native American-based fantasy series (Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs). I have also visited Arizona, and desert scenery can be beautiful and mystical. I am always excited to explore different characters in their respective environments to expand my knowledge about and appreciation of the supernatural.

Overall, I am glad I took a chance on this novel. Janet is a strong, beautiful girl who wants to find acceptance and peace with her own powers. The main cast seems fresh and intriguing. The action was excellent, and the sexual scenes were not over-done. There are many twists and angles that smoothly fit together like a puzzle near the end. I definitely look forward to reading more novels in this riveting series.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Stormwalker series, Firewalker

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Supernatural Season 8 Resumes October 2012

Folks, it's Supernatural time again! The eighth season will premiere on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 9:00 EST on the CW Channel. There is also speculation from screenwriters that this highly-acclaimed horror TV show won't end until season 10.

Although this is my humble opinion, I think Supernatural should have ended at season five. The show is currently on life support to please a cult-like fanbase that is gradually dwindling each year. The plots have become more convoluted and downright silly at times. This is the first year where I was more excited to watch the second premiere of Grimm (!).

Time is running out on Supernatural unless the producers and screenwriters can produce an incredibly genius plot for Sam and Dean. More main characters keep dying each year. Can another challenging case help the Winchester brothers remain relevant among other prime-time TV shows?

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Returning to Graduate School

Major update: This fall, I will intensively focus on finishing my master's degree. In the meantime, I will post less frequently (one post every 4-5 days) for the next eight months. Stay patient! I will resume my normal posting schedule in spring 2013.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Deadlocked (Southern Vampire #12)

It's vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie's heart.

Deadlocked, by Charlaine Harris, is the twelfth novel in the Southern Vampire series. The events of Dead Reckoning—particularly the death of the despicable but powerful vampire Victor—have consequences for part-fairy Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire friends. When Sookie’s vampire husband, Eric Northman, summons her to his Shreveport home to welcome his guest, King Felipe de Castro and his entourage, she is shocked to find Eric feeding on another (younger!) woman in his bedroom.

Later, someone contacts the police when the woman Eric fed from turns up dead with a broken neck on his front lawn, putting Eric and Felipe’s entourage under suspicion.
With the help of ex-boyfriend Bill Compton, Sookie is determined to to clear Eric’s name. Meanwhile, Sookie learns more about the magical item her late grandmother left behind for her—the cluvier dor. Legends say that this treasure is the last of its kind on earth and whoever possesses it can grant the owner’s true wishes. She must also try to keep the local fae under control after her kin, Claude and Niall, return to the land of Faery. Someone knows the cluvier dor exist, and is willing to murder in order to obtain it.

The police are on Sookie’s trail, and won’t leave her alone unless someone finds the cause of the woman’s untimely death. Sookie must navigate the complicated hierarchies of werewolf, vampire and fairy politics if she wants to survive another case. Fate also puts her on another test when she must decide what kind of life she truly desires. As loyalties realign and betrayals are unmasked, Harris sets the stage for the final mystery.

Harris created another wonderful mystery that unravels more secrets and reveals the true insidious nature of the supernatural community in Louisiana. While no one likes Sookie getting snagged into cases that have often endangered her safety, I have learned more about Sookie's desires and concerns than in any previous novels. Surprisingly, there is little romance and sexual prowess in the novel, but it was not missed since Sookie had to keep herself out of jail. Readers will also be shocked to learn whom she uses the cluvier dor to save. I also believe the incidents in Deadlocked became the ultimate turning point in determining how Sookie and her supernatural friends will proceed in the final showdown.

I noticed many readers felt disappointed with the last few novels in this series. Is it starting to wane? Yes, but this is appropriate. Harris has entertained me with the world of Sookie Stackhouse for over ten years! Her books have inspired the HBO hit television series, True Blood. All good things have to come to an end at some point. Sookie is not only getting older but is also becoming wiser as she learns how to navigate the complicated politics of the supernatural community. She starts to consider her own happiness for the right reasons, and it is time that she makes a decision on whom she chooses as her companion. The conclusion in Deadlocked reveals what lies ahead for her as she starts to realize deep down her own true feelings. Therefore, while I am not totally happy about this series drawing its final curtain next year, the timing makes perfect sense with regards to Sookie's character.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Southern Vampire series, Dead Ever After.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Stir: Top 10 Sexiest Vampires of All Time

Check out this list of the top ten sexiest vampires of all time from The Stir. It lists actors and actresses from popular TV shows and movies in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Ah, the memories.

Sure they have the power to break your bones with one squeeze, or send you into the world of the undead with a quick nip to the neck, but it's hard to resist the sexual prowess of vampires. Here are 10 vamps we'd totally fang bang...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

Harry Dresden -- Wizard: Lost items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No love potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, is the first novel in the Dresden Files series. The novel centers around the protagonist, Harry Dresden, a trained wizard private investigator and consultant to the Chicago Police Department. Whenever the police has a case that involves supernatural elements, they come to him for answers. When the police seek Harry's assistance in a double homicide committed with the most blatant forms of black magic, it is his job to investigate who is the new wizard in town and why are witnesses dropping dead like scenes from a horror film. Meanwhile, he must also prove his innocence in front of the wizard council who are always looking for a legitimate reason to execute him for good. Can Harry defeat the black magic before it attacks his friends and eventually consumes his soul?

After many recommendations from friends, I finally decided to take on the Dresden Files. It is hard to believe Butcher has been writing this series since 2000. Storm Front was a delightful novel. Harry Dresden is a sympathetic character who struggles with human world realities but has the courage and stamina to protect friends. He is a real wizard who trained and . I look forward to other supernatural adventures he encounters as a private investigator. No longer seen as the black sheep within the wizard community, Dresden can look forward to the future. Of course, I certainly have a lot of catching up to do within the next year. Lastly, I always like to read a paranormal novel based in Chicago because I completed my undergraduate studies in the Windy City. I love to recollect my alma mater memories.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Dresden Files, Fool Moon
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Trinity Blood (2005)

Trinity Blood (2005) is a Japanese science fiction anime that takes place in a futuristic setting where there is peaceful co-existence between vampires (Methuselah) and humans (Terrans) in the post-Armageddon era. This show contains 24 episodes.

The Methuselahs are a major political and military force who continue to wage war on the "Terrans," as they call the human inhabitants of Earth. The Vatican, based in Rome, is a major military power determined to protect humans from major enemies. The Methuselahs have their capital in Byzantium, which is surrounded by a field of particles to filter out UV radiation, thus protecting the Methuselah population.

In order to protect the humans from the Methuselah, the Vatican has to rely on other allies to counter the situation. The protagonist, a priest called Peter Abel Nightroad, travels through the countries as a representative for the Vatican. However, he is also part of "Ax", a special operations group controlled by the Cardinal Catherina. Abel's secret identity is feared among the vampire population: he is a Crusnik, a genetically-engineered vampire who drinks the blood of other vampires.

Meanwhile, an unknown rising power, the Rozen Kreuz, threatens to disturb the peaceful co-existence and bring about another apocalypse. When an independent kingdom loses their beloved Queen, actions are taken quickly to find the "Star of Hope" who can restore order and peace between the Terrans and Methuselahs. Abel's encounter with a young girl called Esther and his quest to find his missing twin brother, Cain, will also determine the future of Earth.

Many years ago, I was excited to watch this series on television stations like Cartoon Network (aka Adult Swim). But somewhere long the way I got busy with schoolwork and had to set aside this show. Fast forward almost six years later, I have finally finished this anime. Trinity Blood is both entertaining and mysterious. The creator used extensive research to develop a future that weaves smoothly both religion and the supernatural.

The idea of a vampire that feeds on other vampires is a new concept. Abel, who wants to atone for his sins from the Armageddon era, has the absent-minded professor appearance but can turn into a blood-sucking intimidating power in his Crusnik form. As a representative for the Vatican, Abel is able to use his position to search for the Star of Hope and investigate the whereabouts of his missing twin brother, Cain. The action is intense and filled with religious metaphors. Nevertheless, I thought the ending seemed incomplete because Abel never found happiness. His journey still defeat Cain.

I still recommend this anime for fans who like a science fiction twist about vampires. When the author, Sunao Yoshida, died unexpectedly of a lung blockage in 2004, his friends and family pushed for this popular story to become an anime adaptation. Their efforts paid off very well. The music is also fantastic (BUCK-TICK also sang the opening theme for Nightwalker: Midnight Detective.) Enjoy the show!

Opening Theme: "Dress (BLOODY TRINITY MIX) by BUCK-TICK

Ending Theme: "Broken Wings" by Tomoko Tane

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blue Moon Spectacular

In case you haven't heard, August 2012 is Blue Moon Month. The first full moon occurred on August 1, 2012 and the next full moon (the actually blue moon) will appear on August 31, 2012. The next year of double blue moons is coming up in January and March of 2018.

Another definition of blue moon is seasonal.If a season has four full moons, then the third full moon may be called a Blue Moon. The next blue moon by this definition will fall on August 21, 2013.

The term "blue moon" actually refers to the rarity of multiple full moons within a single month or year. Hence the term, "once in a blue moon." You can find more information about blue moons below:

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Moonlight (2007-2008)

Moonlight (2007-2008) is a vampire detective series about a sexy vampire who wants to help others and find a cure to become mortal again (think of it as a modern spin-off of the cult classic, Forever Knight). Based in contemporary Los Angeles, Mick St. John is a vampire private investigator who became a vampire in the 1950s when his beautiful vampire bride, Coraline, turns him during their honeymoon. He shuns the vampire lifestyle when Coraline kidnaps a human girl. As a way to atone for his past sins, he avoids drinking human blood and solves murder mysteries.

Mick eventually falls in love with Beth, who was the same human girl that Mick saved from Coraline. Now a broadcast news reporter for Buzzwire, she assists Mick with gathering information for murder cases. Over the years, he watched her from a distance because he felt drawn to protect--and possibly love--her. Meanwhile, the series highlights a popular dilemma with vampires: is eternal life a blessing or a curse? In the end, Mick knows a vampire-human romance is eternally alluring and dangerous.

Moonlight originally aired on CBS during the 2007-2008 television season. The season was truncated to 16 episodes due to the Writers Guild Strike. Because of that, the series at times feels unresolved--especially in the finale when ratings were improving but the strike hindered continuous progress. When interest to revive the series became possible in 2009, all the actors had moved on to other projects. Thus, the show became permanently cancelled.

Nevertheless, Moonlight is well-crafted and has beautiful production value. The plot also had similar undertones to Forever Knight. Some fans would say it was a total rip-off of the cult classic; others were delighted to watch a modern version of Nick Knight on television again. The 16-episode, 4-disc DVD set was also voted the 2008 People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama. While I wished it had continued for a second season (what would have happened to Mick St. John when an unknown person wants to reveal his identity to the public?), this show will not disappoint fans and newcomers who like their vampires sleek, sexy, and passionate.

CBS Trailer
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Moonlight Secrets, Midnight Games and Darkest Dawn (Fear Street Nights)

They only come out at night.

Fear Street Nights (2005), by R.L. Stine, is a teen thriller miniseries that takes place in the famous fictional city of Shadyside. It has been the background for all of Stine's Fear Street novels since 1989. As someone who has read these books since the mid-1990s, I also believe this trilogy brings closure to the popular series.

Set in the present, a group of teenagers sneak into the Fear Street mansion and steal some possessions before demolition crews arrive at the site. When two teenagers almost fall to their deaths in an unmarked grave, they unleashed a terrible evil--Simon and Angelica Fear--who won't stop killing until they seek revenge for the loss of their possessions. Can the teenagers defeat the powerful couple before all of their friends become dead?

Altogether, the three books combine to 543 pages. Each book is also written in the first person from a different main character, and the writing is geared towards a teenage audience. I provide descriptions of each books below.

Book 1: Moonlight Secrets

It all started with Lewis and Jamie. They were sneaking out late at night to be together. Then their friends started joining in. First at the old burned-down Fear Mansion. Later at the local bar Nights.

They called themselves the Night People. And they carefully protected their secret world. No parents, no work, no stress. Just chilling with friends in their own private after-hours club.

But then the nights turned dark. Unexplainable accidents, evil pranks...and then, later, the killings. The Night People know they have to stop the horror all by themselves, or else they risk exposure -- not to mention their lives.

Book 2: Midnight Games
Dana Fear isn't thrilled about spending her senior year at Shadyside High. The Fear family history goes way back in this town, and she's not so into lugging around the baggage.

But then she gets in with the Night People. Shadyside's pretty cool when it's 3 A.M. and you're chilling at a bar called Nights with your new best friends.

Until the evil returns, and the Night People start mysteriously disappearing one by one. Dana swears she has nothing to do with it. But all fingers point in one direction. Because there is, after all, a new Fear in town....

Book 3: Darkest Dawn
The Night People are safe at last. After all the ugly pranks and vicious murders, things have finally started to return to normal. The friends who are left try to forget and move on, taking comfort by meeting up at their old hang out, Nights. It was the ancient spirit of Angelica Fear that caused all the trouble. And now she's been destroyed once and for all. Burned in a fire. But if it's true that the horror is dead, what did Angelica mean when her voice cried out from the flames?..."The Evil Lives!"?

R.L. Stine literally invented the teen horror genre with Fear Street, the bestselling teen horror series of all time. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was a popular tradition for teens to gather together late at night (before cell phones and online chat rooms existed!) and tell horror stories and legends (think of the successful Nickelodeon series, Are You Afraid of the Dark?). Simultaneously, the horror television genre was also popular with late-night shows like Tales from the Crypt.

His first Fear Street book, The New Girl, was written in 1989, and you can have find reprints of his novels in bookstores and online marketplaces. I became hooked on these novels in elementary and middle schools. It was during this time that I became captivated by the supernatural and developed a passion for reading paranormal novels. By high school, I transitioned over to adult content by other authors which you can browse on my top books page.

Since 2005, R.L. Stine has not written any new Fear Street material. That is why I believe this miniseries comes across as the final tale in the popular teen thriller genre. With the greatest evil finally defeated, the people of Shadyside can finally have peace. If you haven't read a Fear Street novel, I highly recommend it! Click here to read the rest of this post...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Upcoming TV Show: Revolution (NBC)

Revolution is an upcoming American science fiction dramatic television series that will premiere on Monday September 17, 2012, at 10:00 Eastern Time on the NBC Channel.

From Wikipedia:

Revolution takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Fifteen years earlier, an unknown phenomenon permanently disabled all advanced technology on the planet, ranging from computers and electronics to car engines and batteries. People were forced to adapt to a world without technology, and due to the collapse of public order, many areas are ruled by warlords and militias. The series focuses on the Matheson family, who possess an item that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, they must elude various enemy groups who want to possess that power for themselves.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: Grave Memory (Alex Craft #3)

"When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen.

Grave Memory, by Kalayna Price, is the third novel in the Alex Craft series. Alex is a private investigator and consultant to the police who solves murders by raising the dead. As a grave witch, her special ability has its advantages (speaking to the dead) and disadvantages (deteriorating eyesight). She has also set up their own P.I. office, Tongues for the Dead Investigations.

While the office is a proud accomplishment for Alex, she is knowledgeable of other personal complications in her life: 1) her close relationship with Death, a soul collector; 2) her partner, Agent Falin Andrews, is under the influence of the Winter Queen; 3) her best friend, Rianna, has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Fairie; and 4) her fae genes have awakened, which may destroy everything she worked hard to gain as a human. Despite these challenges, nothing would have prepared her for the biggest murder case in her professional life.

Alex is hired to investigate a suicide in Nekros City. The problem is the shade has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal death. All evidence eventually leads to murder. She enlists the help of her friends to track down a magical being who has the power to devour mortal souls and should not exist in their world. Will Alex risk her life to protect others and live another day?

The Alex Craft series continues to get better every year! More information about Alex's ancestry is revealed and she comes to terms with whom she can have a romantic relationship. This was the biggest challenge Alex had to face so far. She also discovers more secrets about her fae ancestry that she wonders if she can keep her human identity in Nekros City. The ending will also make you want to purchase the next novel immediately! When I realized that the next book will focus on Falin, I giggled happily (obviously, I am a Falin fan). It seems Alex is becoming more immersed in Faerie (and the dead zone) than she ever imagined.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Alex Craft series!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)

"Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels on the job."

Magic Bleeds, by Ilona Andrews, is the fourth novel in the Kate Daniels series. After a falling out with her supervisor, Kate has quit the Order of Merciful Aid to dedicate her full attention to the Pack, Atlanta's premier shapeshifting community. As the mate of the Beast Lord, she presides over meetings and proves her worth among the shapesifters. Meanwhile, Curran is still recovering from the epic battle where he almost goes wild in Magic Bleeds.

As a generous gift from the Pack, she establishes her own paranormal private investigator business. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of insulting the Beast Lord. When Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead needs her assistance with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance to get paid and build her brand.

However, this case is not an isolated incident, and Kate quickly needs to get to the bottom of it. In another situation, she is also racing against time to save the life of a human girl infected with the Lyc-V virus. When a secret group of human terrorists threaten to destroy all things based on magic in Atlanta, it's up to Kate and the rest of the supernatural community to save the city from total destruction.

I officially love the Kate Daniels series. I think the relationship between Curran and Kate grows stronger every novel as they endure challenges that test their endurance and love for each other. They are such a special treat to read. I also love learning how people adapt to living with magic and technology. Their adventures are always both spiriting and suspenseful. I didn't know what to expect when I picked up these series four months ago. I read the rave reviews about Ilona Andrews, and decided to take the risk. I am glad that I took the risk.

If you are an avid fan of the series, check out the latest novella, Magic Gifts, which is available in PDF format. This novella takes place right after MAGIC SLAYS: A dinner date after a hard day at work sounds heavenly. Of course, when that date is between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels, things don’t go as planned. Before you know it, undead are running amok, heads are being chopped off, lawyers are deployed and used with extereme prejudice, and drunk vikings are calling people out.

Stay tuned for the spin-off book in the Kate Daniels series, Gunmetal Magic.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: The Immortal (Christopher Pike)

The ancient artifact was cursed.

The Immortal, by Christopher Pike, is a young adult thriller that focuses on the lives of two female high school graduates who meet unfortunate fates. Josie is on vacation in Greece with her best friend, Helen, and her father, a Hollywood screenwriter working on a screenplay for a science fiction film. While visiting Mykonos, they tour the sacred island of Delos, considered the birthplace of Apollo, Greek god of truth, prophecy, healing and the sun.

Josie accidentally stumbles upon an ancient artifact that resembles a Greek goddess. She immediately takes the statue with her for safe-keeping when she leaves the island. Nevertheless, trouble follows her when she and a guy she likes fall ill to unknown causes. Then, Josie sees visions of an immortal goddess who is falsely accused of murdering her best friend. The goddess' punishment is living the life of a mortal inside Josie's body! When the truth is finally unveiled, Josie must save her friends before her time on Earth is finished.

This was a very good plot with a surprising twist at the end. While I wished no one had died, it does have a happy ending from a justice perspective. The audience for this type of novel is adolescents (ages 13-19) who are new to thrillers and want to explore fantasy fiction.

It was a pleasure to read more books by Christopher Pike. In my childhood, I was hooked on young adult thrillers by big-name writers such as him and R.L. Stine. I figured it was time to revisit their great works and highlight my favorites. In the near future, I will cover The Last Vampire trilogy and few more Pike Books (Remember Me, Fall into Darkness, See You Later, and so forth) on this website. I never imagined how much Pike, Stine and Elrod have been such a major influence in my life. Their works are one of the primary reasons why I created this paranormal blog.

Stay tuned for more novels by Christopher Pike in the near future!
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4)

Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger.

Destined for an Early Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, is the fourth novel in the Night Huntress series. Bones and Cat take a vacation after they defeated an ancient Master vampire and her rogue undead army. During their honeymoon, Cat experiences mysterious dreams where she has visions of a vampire named Gregor who claims she is her rightful husband. Nicknamed the Dreamsnatcher, he can physically lure away unsuspecting persons in their dreams. Worse, he is more powerful than Bones and knows the truth about Cat's past.

Gregor won't stop the visions and threats until Cat is officially his again. As Cat battles between the vampire who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, she must make a decision that may cost her her humanity. If it can break the power Gregor has over her, then she will need all the power she can summon to win her freedom. The only way is to become one of the most feared in the supernatural world.

This series keeps getting better and better! This is officially the climax where readers will discover Cat's true abilities and destiny as a vampire hunter. She asks Bones to turn her into a vampire, but a surprise awaits her when she becomes a unique being that no one knew could possibly exist.

I won't spoil the plot any further, but it was certainly surprising to witness Cat question why does she cling to her humanity? To serve as a daily reminder of her duty to take down the rogue undead? She meets a foe much stronger than she can bargain for. Her "blood bond" marriage with Bones is also put to the test when they must learn how to trust each other. The stakes are high for Cat to make an ultimate decision on her future, but readers will be pleased with the novel's ending.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Night Huntress series, First Drop of Crimson. This spin-off book focuses on Spade's (Bones' best friend) love life.
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Fate/Zero (2011-2012)

When the curtain falls, who will emerge victorious is anyone's guess... And what "victorious" truly means, is even more questionable.

Fate/Zero (2011-2012) is a Japanese fantasy anime that takes place 10 years before the events of Fate/Stay Night (2006). This series chronicles the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City. It contains 26 episodes.

The battle for the Holy Grail continues after three inconclusive winners, with more lives lost and more secrets revealed. The Holy Grail War is a contest in which seven mages summon seven Heroic Spirits throughout history to compete for the power of the "Holy Grail," which can grant the winner's true desire. Founded by the Einzbern, Makiri, and Tosaka families centuries ago, the Einzbern family is determined to achieve success after three consecutive failures. As a result, they have elected to bring the hated magus killer, Kiritsugu Emiya, into their ranks, despite his methods and reputation as a skilled mercenary who employs whatever he can use to accomplish his goals.

In his youth, Kiritsugu wanted to become a hero who could save everyone. He has long since abandoned this ideal upon realizing that saving one person comes at the cost of another's life. For the sake of humanity, he will ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone who threatens the peace of others. However, Kiritsugu finds himself deeply torn between the love he has found for his new family and what he must do to obtain the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, Kiritsugu's greatest opponent appears in the form of Kirei Kotomine, a mysterious priest who cannot find any sense of fulfillment in his life and targets Kiritsugu as the possible answer to the emptiness he feels.

It is a known fact that I have a disdain for prequels. First, it disrupts the flow of the storyline when you have to remember (and possibly re-watch) a show you haven't seen in nearly five or more years. Second, prequels sometimes don't outshine the original debut show. Third, they are sometimes unnecessary to produce. In Fate/Zero, viewers witness the events that led up to Fate/stay night. We also see a different side to Saber, the (only) female Heroic figure protagonist, and how she met Kiritsugu. We also get to see Kiritsugu's backstory in the second arc.

Did the producers have to make this show? Yes and no. While I learned about the origins of the Holy Grail War, I felt bored and indifferent when it ended In some ways, evil prevails because there is no conclusive winner. Besides the occasional battle scenes, you have Heroic figures talking philosophical jabs at each other. The good side is the OST music was pretty good, especially the debut song,"Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau (Up on the Sky, the Wind Sings)" by Haruna Luna. Overall, I will only recommend this show to avid Fate/stay-night fans. Anyone else should skip the prequel and watch Fate/stay-night.

I will update this blog post with the music videos soon.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Final Thirteenth Sookie Stackhouse Novel Revealed

Charlaine Harris, author of the bestselling Southern Vampire novels, has announced that the thirteenth and final novel, Dead Ever After, will hit bookstores in May 2013.

Harris, whose bestselling books about vampires, werewolves and other supernatural beings in the small southern town of Bon Temps was made into the popular True Blood television series, has previously hinted that she was planning to bring the story to a close. But she made the definitive announcement on her Facebook page yesterday, telling readers that the 13th and final Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Ever After, would be on sale next May. She immediately drew more than 5,000 "likes" and hundreds of comments from her fans, from: "Say it ain't so!" to "How can you do that to us!"

"I don't have anything left to tell. After the last book, I'll have said everything I have to say about Sookie," Harris said last week. "Really, I think it would be doing readers a disservice to continue writing a character when my heart wasn't in it. I've loved writing Sookie, but if you see the end of the road, you see the end of the road."

It's sad news for fans, but all book series eventually come to an end. I think Harris is making the right call, considering that the quality of writing has dropped in the last three books. I hope the final book wraps up everything nicely.

True Blood, the HBO TV series, is based on the Southern Vampire novels.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: Intimations of Mortality (Forever Knight #2)

"He has walked the night beat for centuries. He is one of the finest homicide detectives in Toronto. But Nick Knight wishes he could shed the curse of this true calling. The burn of the thirst. The thrill of the kill, the endless nights longing to be human...not a vampire."

Intimations of Mortality, by Susan M. Garrett, is the second novel in the Forever Knight novel series, based on the 1990s television series produced by Paragon Entertainment Corporation in association with TriStar Television. In his quest for mortality, Nick Knight meets a mysterious woman who claims she can grant his wish. Faced with two different worlds, his dream world brought upon by a mysterious doll, and the real world, Nick soon finds himself torn between himself as a vampire in the real world and mortal in the dream world.

In the dream, he is mortal working in a police department dominated by vampires. LaCroix has also become mortal and is the leader of the anti-vampire underground. Everyone else he knows in the real world has turned into vampires. The vampires in the dream world must struggle between the vampire law, the bloodlust, their lingering attachments to the mortal world left behind, and feelings for some of those mortals. Natalie, his lover, has been assigned to turn Nick into an immortal again for his excellent work performance.

When Nick wakes up from his dreams, he can feel himself becoming a mortal each day. Has he finally found the cure for the 800-year-old monster that lives within him? However, what one desires comes with a price. Is he willing to pay dearly for it?

I think this is the best book among the three Forever Knight novels. Susan M. Garrett ingenuously captured the characters' personalities from the television series. She gives Nick Knight the ultimate challenge when he must ask himself, "What is mortality? What is it like to be human?" The moral of the story seems to be that "the grass is not always greener" on the other side. Nick Knight finds himself conflicted in both worlds and the outcomes end with mixed results. In other words, what Nick Knight may ultimately seek is not mortality per se but actually redemption. He comes to the realization that he is a vampire...forever.

For Forever Knight fans, this is an excellent novel. The characters are all true to the series, and the action is faithful to the timeline of the last half of the final season. The interactions of the various characters and how they change as the realities shift is done quite well. If you have not heard of Forever Knight, I highly recommend you rent or buy the DVDs soon!

If you are looking for a similar television series, check out Moonlight (2007). Although only one season was produced, it carries the same theme of a vampire named Nick St. John, who longs to be mortal again and works as a private investigator as his way of regaining his humanity. It has very positive reviews, and I should have a review of the television series available on this website soon.

Stay tuned to the final novel in the Forever Knight series, These Our Revels, which is a flashback of Nick's life in Elizabethan England (1500-1600s).
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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Aquarion (2005, 2012)

Aquarion (2005, 2012) is a Japanese science fiction anime about the continuous battles between humans and the Shadow Angels. Twelve thousand years ago in the past, humanity was under the control of mythical creatures known as Shadow Angels, immortal winged beings with supernatural powers and advanced technology. One day, Apollonius, a Shadow Angel, fell in love with a female human warrior, Celiane. By becoming a fallen angel, he joins forces with the humans to free them from their oppression, by using the legendary flying robot, Aquarion. Each season has 26 episodes.

First Season: Genesis of Aquarion

Eleven years prior to the story, known as the "Great Catastrophe" destroyed significant parts of the world and killed off many of its inhabitants. Along with the disaster came the return of the Shadow Angels. They began invading human cites on Earth to harvest human beings, dubbing them as "the wingless ones", to extract the prana (life force) from the harvested humans not only to serve as energy and nutrition to them, but also to feed the legendary Tree of Life.

To fight against the Shadow Angels, young people with special powers called Elements from around the world were gathered and trained to pilot the "vector machines", three ancient ships that together form mankind's ultimate weapon, "Aquarion". They also discover the Elements can ultimately unite the vectors into one of three formations and can use Aquarion to defeat the Cherubim. The story primarily focuses on Apollo, who seems to be the reincarnation of Apollonius. The people become convinced when he single-handedly unites the vector machines into the Solar Aquarion formation and defeats the enemy, thus recruiting him to join their ranks.

Second Season: Aquarion EVOL

12,000 years later after Sousei no Aquarion, mankind on planet Vega are threatened by a new enemy by the planet, Altair. The female population has mysteriously died to a disease called the Curse of Eve on Altair. They send Abductors (much like the Shadow Angels) to Vega to retrieve female inhabitants and search for the true Eve who can save their planet.

Meanwhile, the story of Apollon and Sylvie have become a children's story called "Skies Of Aquaria". DEAVA, the Aquaria Academy, trains young men and women to use Aquaria, but they cannot ever merge because of Guize stones, blocking an "unholy union" between genders. The story follows Amata and Mikono as they enrolled in DEAVA and fight the Abductors. With his help, he combines the Vectors with female and male pilots into one single robot, the legendary Aquarion.

There is also an OAV (2007) and movie (2007) adaptation of the series.

Sousei no Aquarion was a fresh idea with an epic ending. I enjoyed the characters and how they overcame their challenges and fears on their own. The action scenes were great and well-designed. Although it didn't have a happy ending, it felt complete with the "we've saved the world as martyrs" theme.

Meanwhile, It is still hard to believe that Aquarion is back with a second season. When I heard the news (I am one of the few who watched the original seven years ago!), I had to publish this review. I really enjoyed Sousei no Aquarion and thought the studio would take the franchise to the next level. What would happen 12,000 years later between the reincarnations of Apollo and Sylvie?

After watching the second season, I felt disappointed with the entire delivery. Since the characters are much younger in the sequel, I realized the producers were aiming for the teen demographic.The plot felt cheesy, characters seemed more immature, the acting was somewhat robotic, and the ending left little to desire. Although first season characters make cameo appearances in latter episodes, they did little to help uplift Aquarion EVOL into a masterpiece worth praising. I also thought the directors rushed the ending hastily with no complete closure on the relationship between Amata and Mikono. Nevertehles, to my knowledge, the curse of another 12,000 years of ill-fated love and conquest has been broken.

As for the music, both seasons have good music soundtracks. You can hear an English rendition of the first season's opening theme in the sequel. Overall, I highly recommend the first season, and viewers should skip the second season altogether. Although viewers will discover the true identity of Toma's lover in the sequel (was this the main purpose of the show? If yes, why were viewers forced to endure the Amata-Kagura-Mikono-Zessica love triangle every week??), the rest of the episodes are not worth watching because of the bad acting and poor plot development.

First Season Opening Theme: Sousei no Aquarion" by AKINO

First Season Ending Theme: "Omna Magni" by Yui Makino

Second Season Opening Theme: "Kimi no Shinwa ~ Aquarion Dai Ni Shou" by AKINO with bless4

Second Season Ending Theme: "Gekkō Symphonia" (Moonlight Symphonia) by AKINO & AIKI from bless4

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 Trailer

It's finally available. Watch the teaser and official trailer below for the upcoming film, Breaking Dawn Part 2. Renesmee, daughter of Bella and Edward, will make her grand appearance. The theater premiere date is November 16, 2012.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4)

"Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose."

Magic Bleeds, by Ilona Andrews, is the fourth novel in the Kate Daniels series. It takes place in futuristic Atlanta where magic has overtaken technology. Supernatural beings and experienced mages roam the land. When the magic is up, guns refuse to start and cars fail to start. The process repeats itself unpredictably. Thus, society has had to readjust infrastructure and protocols according to the new times.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. She also cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shape-shifting community. When she receives an order to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shape-shifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers something powerful has entered Atlanta. Worse, this foe is related to her notorious father, whose powerful magic created the first vampire thousands of years ago.

This battle may be too much for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts. Panic spreads throughout Atlanta when mysterious deaths and diseases appear in sequences. With Kate trying to keep her special blood a secret, she may have no choice but to take on family.

[Warning: this section contains spoilers] Andrews never ceases to amaze me with her vivid storytelling skills in the world of Kate Daniels. I believe this was the climax of the series -- will Kate stay with the Order (whose policies she always had doubts), or switch sides to the Pack (while not entirely open to non-shape-shifter members, she does have much support and clout in the community)? I think she made the best decision (the Pack) given her extreme circumstances. She met her greatest foe (her aunt, Roland's sister) and learned a lot about her family background.

Kate also found love in Curran, the Beast Lord. Together, they've been through the best and worst of times. Although Kate didn't want to admit it, she truly desired companionship with him. She always used her occupation as a mercenary for the Order as an excuse to avoid hurting other people and keep her family blood a secret. Curran and Kate work well together as couple, and I look forward to their romantic moments. His strong desire to rescue Kate and stay by her side sealed the deal.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Slays
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