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: "GekkĊ Symphonia" (Moonlight Symphonia) by AKINO & AIKI from bless4

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