Saturday, March 31, 2012

Movie Trailer: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012)

Although I think the concept of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, as a masterful vampire hunter is still strange, the plot looks interesting to watch in movie theaters. It will premiere on June 22, 2012 in 3-D format. Watch the trailer below.

Summary: President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1)

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic…

Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews, is the first novel in the Kate Daniels series. It takes place in the future, where Atlanta has been completely devastated by magic. According to the author, humans had accomplished so many technological advances in science that the boundary between mankind and the supernatural became too imbalanced. The power of magic suddenly returned with a bang, interrupting--and destroying--the metaphysical properties of cities. As a consequence, humans must also learn how to live with other beings, such as werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural creatures.

Kate Daniels is a highly-gifted mercenary who does odd jobs (magical problems) to pay the bills. Her snappy sense of humor and tendency to provoke others often gets her into trouble. When she receives a disturbing letter announcing the murder of her only close relative and mentor, Greg Feldman, she decides to investigate his death with the Order of Merciful Aid. She is also shocked to learn that her fellow knights will allow her to facilitate and act according to her wishes in the case. She sets forth to gather information and find who or what murdered Greg.

During the investigation, Kate learns that Greg had a friendly professional relationship with the Pack, which includes all were-creatures in Atlanta. She has her first contact with the Beast Lord, who controls the were-creatures and has absolute authority with all matters related to the Pack. Despite her attitude, she manages to form an alliance with the Pack and gain a werewolf sidekick (bounded by blood) to assist her during the investigations. She also allies with the Masters of the Dead, a secret organization of vampire-controlling necromancers, to discover whether Greg's death is tied to a series of bizarre killings in the city. What she doesn't realize is take true courage and strength to face her most powerful enemy yet.

Yes, I am a late starter in the Kate Daniels series, but I am glad that I considered this book. Since this is Andrews (husband-and-wife team!) first book, it has some pacing issues but the story became more exciting near the end. Kate has special powers and abilities, and her strong sense for justice and protection for others intrigues me. Despite her tough bad-girl appearance, she attempts a normal life by accepting a dinner date with a human doctor.

I think her character will grow on me. In some ways, she reminds me of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson character. I am also interested in what lies ahead for Kate as she encounters (and fights) more supernatural beings and possibly establish a romantic relationship with the Beast Lord. This was a very good introduction to a promising series. I highly recommend it.

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (2012) Hunger Games (2012) is a young adult science fiction film adaption of the popular book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In the future, years of drought, fire, famine and war weakened the political stability of North America. A new nation, Panem, emerges with the Capitol and 12 outlying districts. While the people of the Capitol live in comfortable opulence, those who reside in the districts live in inconceivable, impoverished conditions.

Each year, two young representatives between the ages of 12 and 18 from each outlying district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Although seen as part entertainment and part intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants must kill--thus eliminate--their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.

When 16-year-old Katniss' younger sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss inadvertently volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, son of a baker family, are escorted to the Capitol where they must face stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Can Katniss and Peeta survive the brutal 74th Hunger Games, or will they perish like hundreds of previous young souls in he wilderness?

I have heard of the books, but I had never expressed interest because the material contained little supernatural. When the film finally came out, my friends highly recommended that I should see it in movie theaters. I did not research the plot to see whether it was really good as the critics said. I enjoyed it so much that it exceeded my expectations. Collins even adapted and co-produced the plot for the movie screen. Thus, I had to write this review.

The Hunger Games is an example of dystopia, a type of science fiction that focuses on poverty, squalor, or oppression within a futuristic society. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way. Although Collins does not explain in detail why certain districts in Panem suffer poverty and injustice, I heard that these details are revealed later in the triology, including the history of the rebellion. I cannot wait to learn the social oppression themes in future film sequels. For more information about the districts, this graphic illustrates the different economic sectors within Panem.

Although there is romance in the story, Collins de-emphasizes this aspect by focusing the the film script on the thrilling action sequences, bringing in more male audiences to watch the story of a brave female protagonist who not only defiles the status quo but can also possibly change history. It is also one of the few 2.5-hour (!) films in my lifetime that has never bored me. That definitely a huge compliment. I also believe this film could be the heir to the popular teen Twilight series.

A sequel will be released in theaters on November 22, 2013.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Movie Trailer: Dark Shadows (2012) Shadows is an upcoming 2012 American supernatural comedy film based on the 1966–1971 gothic soap opera of the same name. An imprisoned 18th-century vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. The only problem is 200 years have gone by since his slumber. It will premiere in theaters on May 11, 2012.

This is one Tim Burton film you should not miss!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: Saiunkoku Monogatari (2006-2008)

Saiunkoku Monogatari ~The Story of Saiunkoku~ (2006-2008) is a Japanese historical fantasy anime. It takes place in the fictional land of Saiunkoku, divided into eight regions based on the colors of the rainbow. It contains 78 episodes (two seasons).

The new Emperor, Shi Ryuuki, is known throughout the kingdom of Saiunkoku for being uninterested in imperial matters and his flirtation with men. Meanwhile, Hong Shuurei, who descends from a noble family, and her father have fallen into financial hard times. She receives an invitation to be the Emperor's concubine for six months so that he can become a good ruler. If she succeeds, the financial reward will be great.

Shuurei has always wanted to become a court official in the imperial palace (At the time, women were not allowed to take the imperial exams.). The mysterious Seiran, a young man who was adopted by her father, goes with her as Ryuuki's imperial bodyguard. Ryuuki gradually becomes attracted to his new concubine. He pursues relentlessly, hoping that she'll feel the same way for him. Overall, Shuurei embarks on an incredible journey to change societal perceptions of women and fend off the Emperor's advances.

In the second season, Shuurei encounters more obstacles that could endanger her life. Secrets are revealed, and imperial politics become more complicated. and Nevertheless, friends and companions continue to help her with her duties as an official. Shuurei is determined to prove herself and help her country. Meanwhile, a relationship begins to form between her and the Emperor.

I enjoyed this show even though I never read the manga. Since watching Fushigi Yuugi, stories that takes place in a mythical Chinese dynasty with fantasy and romance thrown in the mix intrigue me. Saiunkoki Monogatari, although there's no magical girl/priestess theme, was a good choice. This is a long series, but Shuurei is a strong character that is easy to like as she gradually develops into an intelligent and confident woman. If you are looking for a historical romance, I highly recommend this anime.

Opening: "Hajimare no kaze" by Ayaka Hirahara

Ending: "Saikou no Kataomoi" by Sachi Tainaka

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1)

"Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn't mean she likes what they have to say."

Grave Witch, by Kalayna Price, is the first novel the Alex Craft series. It takes place in a fictional, futuristic city called Nekros City (located between Alabama and Georgia) where the supernatural - both witches and fae - have revealed their existence to the world during the Magical . Alex Craft is a private investigator and consultant for the Nekros City police. She is also a grave witch, someone who can speak to the dead and even Death himself.

In her latest case, Alex is investigating a high-profile murder of an elected official. She discovers the use of dark magic among the corpse. Not only are the dead attacking her but someone also tries a serious attempt on her life. Although Death saves her, she is infected by a soul-sucking spell that is gradually eroding her life force. Despite this setback, she continues her life and becomes the first witch to raise a "shade" to the witness stand in the courtroom.

Alex teams up with handsome homicide detective, Falin Andrews, and Roy, a ghost seeking vengeance, to uncover the mysteries behind the dark magic. It is nothing like she has seen before. As more deaths continue continue, they are racing against time to stop the ritual before it costs her life and her soul.

Yes, I am reading new book series in 2012! Two of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs and Chloe Neill, highly recommended this new author. Since I am now interested in reading more novels about witches, I thought the series looked promising.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Alex Craft series, Grave Dance

Friday, March 2, 2012

Music: Adiemus (Songs of Sanctuary) is a title of the single and album was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Jenkin. The lead singer is international renowned British singer, Miriam Stockley, with a Scandinavian choral group. It is a vocalise song where there are no lyrics; the singers say vowels or syllables to create a harmonic melody. Due to its commercial success in the late 1990s, it has received a cult following in mainstream consciousness.

When I hear this song, it always reminds me of the ancient (even biblical) days of war and conquest. "Adiemus" is a great example of the new age or world music genre.