Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Silver Shadows, by Richelle Mead, is the fifth novel in the Bloodline series. In the previous novel (The Fiery Heart), Sydney risked everything to follow her instincts, walking a dangerous line to keep her romantic feelings for Adriana--a royal Moroi vampire--hidden from the Alchemists. Now separated away from everyone she loved, Sydney struggles to figure out how to survive psychologically and physically in an underground Alchemist re-education center. For Adrian, he must figure out how to keep sober and rescue Sydney. But first, he needs a strategic plan and some allies to break her out of her prison cell.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

I loved this book! I finished it in two days (literally). Mead beautifully described the budding (and forbidden) relationship between the two and how both grapple with their new realities separated from each other. Sydney experienced torture and fear in the re-education center, and learned the true face of the Alchemists, an organization she swore to serve. With her magical abilities, she makes the decision to defect from the ALchemists for good. Meanwhile, Adrian comes to terms with the realization that he cannot imagine a life without Sydney and will break away from Moroi traditions to follow his heart. There are also cameo appearances by Lissa, Rose, and Dmitri who sympathize with Adrian's position. The story was mesmerizing and engaging, a trait that I love about Mead. There was never a dull moment, and I hope that Adrian and Sydney find happiness despite whatever dangers lurk ahead for them. The Alchemists want Sydney back and the Moroi Court look down upon human mates -- can Adrian protect Sydney from the overwhelming odds stacked against them? I look forward to the next novel, which has a publication release date of February 2015.

Stay tuned for the final installment of the Bloodlines series, The Ruby Circle.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Ghost Stories (2000-2001) Stories (2000-2001) is a children's supernatural anime. It has 20 episodes and takes place in contemporary Japan.

The story begins when Satsuki and her younger brother, Keichirou, move back to their deceased mother's hometown. ON their first day of school, they meet three other kids (Haijime, their neighbor, Momoko, an older schoolmate, and Leo, a classmate and friend of Hajime who has an interest in ghost-hunting) and visit the abandoned school building adjacent to their current school complex. Upon their discovery, the abandoned school house is haunted. When young Satsuki stumbles upon an old book of spells from her deceased mother, she gains the power to fight ghosts and evil spirits that are haunting her new school. It was Satsuki's deceased mother who was responsible for sealing the ghosts inside a hill. However, a residential development project threatens to release them into the human world again. With the help of her friends and a possessed devil cat, she must protect everyone around her. While the devil cat, Amanojaku, does not want to help Satsuki, the danger soon threatens the entire town and it is up to the group to stop the evil spirits.

This anime is good entertainment if you are interested in ghosts. The encounters with spirits will scare you. It has that nostalgic "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" feeling too. This anime is available to buy on DVD in Japanese and English dubbed versions. The dubbed version would be rated MA or R for use of adult references in American popular culture (I think the producers were aiming for an adult audiences). This anime is not appropriate for children.

Opening Theme: "Grow Up" by Hysteric Blue

Ending Theme: "Sexy Sexy" by Cascade

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness, is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. Historian and weaver witch, Diana Bishop, and vampire scientist and de Clermont family assassin, Matthew Clairmont, return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Sept-Tours (France), they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches with one significant exception. In addition, Diana returns to the present as a pregnant mother-to-be with twins! The search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency as new threats emerge. The safety of the twins is of utmost importance as Diana and Matthew struggle with ancient traditions and a dangerous nemesis from the past who desires nothing but revenge and destruction.

In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

I really enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy series. Although I was never a fan of British literature, Deborah Harkness brilliantly combined old prose and modern language that introduced readers to the world of Diana Bishop, a spellbound witch-turned-professor who stumbles upon the world of the supernatural, time-travel, and eventually her true calling. Although her stubborn personality sometimes annoyed me to the point of headaches, I could sympathize with her position. She was walking down a path with risks and unknown future. Readers will be overjoyed and surprised to learn the secrets of Ashmole 782 (I would have never imagined the outcome to turn out the way it did but it fits the plot). There is a strong theme of interracial marriage throughout the book and how people prevented such relationships due to fear and ignorance of the unknown. A basic knowledge of early modern European history (roughly 1500s to 1800s), especially the Elizabethan English era, is also highly recommended to understand the jargon and appreciate the symbolism throughout the books. Finally, I hope that this book trilogy becomes a film franchise. As long as it stays true to the book, it has the pieces to become a successful hit like The Hunger Games and Divergent. For more information about the All Souls Trilogy, please visit Harkness' official website. I cannot overstate this enough -- this is a fantastic series and start from where it all began in A Discovery of Witches!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13)

Now, the late Harry Dresden will have to pull off the ultimate trick without using any magic—or face an eternity as just another lost soul…

Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher, is the thirteenth novel in the Dresden Files series. At 500 pages, this is the longest Dresden Files novel to date. After an unknown assassin murders him and leaves him to die in the dark depths of Lake Michigan, Harry Dresden hopes that he's heading to a better place. However, being dead doesn't make his life any easier. Trapped between life and death, Harry learns that his friends are in serious trouble in Chicago. Only by finding his murderer can he save his friends and move on—a feat which would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. Worse still are the malevolent shadows that roam Chicago, controlled by a dark entity that wants Harry to suffer even in death.

I had high expectations for this book ever since I read Changes and the novella in Side Jobs. At nearly 500 pages, it was a big of a drag to finish the entire book. In post-Dresden Chicago, chaos roams the streets. There were moments when Harry reflected too much on himself and not the crisis at hand -- saving his friends from an undead necromancer who wants to take over the world. I struggled with the fact that Dresden knew that he asked a companion to take him out after the events that occurred in Changes, yet as a ghost he forgets that he initiated the order. There were high and low moments throughout the book where I wondered where Butcher was taking his readers. It was not one of Butcher's best novels (some parts were boring), but I am glad to shift focus to Dresden's next role as the Winter Knight in Cold Days.

Stay tuned for the fourteenth novel in the Dresden Files series, Cold Days (Dresden Files).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Promotional Trailer for Second Season of Sleepy Hollow

Below is the promotional trailer for the second season of Sleepy Hollow. It will premiere on September 22, 2014 at 9:00 pm EST on FOX.

Sleepy Hollow - Second Season

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Thirst Series #1 (The Last Vampire, Black Blood, and Red Dice)

Thirst #1: The Last Vampire, Black BLood, and Red Red Dice, by Christopher Pike, is the first three books of popular teen series, The Last Vampire. The books have been reprinted and updated into an omnibus for easier reading. The description states:

At five thousand years old, the vampire Alisa thought she was smart enough to stay out of trouble. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must protect herself by befriending Ray, the boy who may be her only chance at finding her maker. When she begins to fall in love with Ray, all of a sudden there is more at stake than her own life. Originally published in 1994, this series netted more than 500,000 copies as individual titles and later as bind-ups. This hot new repackage will revive the series for today’s teen.

I had heard many great reviews about the The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike over the years but never had the chance until now to read the books. The omnibus is a great way to read through a popular series without having to track down the original mass marketplace paperback versions. Since the 1990s, Pike (along with R.L. Stine) has become one of the greatest teen horror authors in the genre. Their books influenced the rise of the adult/teen urban fantasy series in the 2000s. The Thirst books are a great way to revisit why these books became popular among young readers.

The Thirst #1 omnibus focus on the life of Sita, a 5000-year-old vampire from India who considers herself the last of her kind on earth. In The Last Vampire, she lives under the shadows until her creator, Yaksha, reappears to locate and capture her. In Bloack Blood, there is bloodshed and loss (even the man she loves) as she tries to prevent more vampires from roaming the earth. She keeps her promise to the man (Indian god, Krishna) who saved her life a long time ago. In Red Dice,, she runs into more trouble when she discovers a former flame and secret government facility experimenting with vampire blood. Sita (or known as Alisa or Laura throughout the books) must destroy all evidence so that the world does not know about vampires. Sita has a cruel responsibility and wishes nothing more but to be human again.

Stay tuned for the second omnibus of the original six-book collection, Thirst Series #2: Phantom, Evil Thirst, Creatures of Forever.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Up From the Grave (Night Huntress #7)

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death...because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives--and those of everyone they hold dear-- will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

Up From the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, is the seventh and final book in the Night Huntress series. A rogue CIA agent is involved in a horrifying secret genetic experiments that threatens to start an all-out war between humans and the undead (vampires, ghouls). Cat Crawfield and her husband, Bones, must race against time to save their captured friends from a fate worse than death. Once the enter the secret underground facility, they discover a secret so profound and shocking that there is no room for mistakes. For Cat to protect everyone she holds dear, she must come out on top against powerful forces who originally wanted her dead.

Frost delivers a spellbinding story that would shake the Night Huntress universe. Fans will be in for a surprising rollercoaster ride when the secrets of the genetic experiments reveals a weapon that could launch an all-out war among the undead. Fortunately, there is a happy ending for Cat Crawfield and her friends even if it means leaving behind everything they knew for survival's sake. From the Ohio countryside to government agent, Cat Crawfield led an adventurous life as a hybrid (half-human/half-vampire) vampire hunter. I will miss her funny and kickass attitude. I am very glad that I picked up this series and highly recommend it to anyone interested in urban fantasy with an erotic/suspense twist.

For reading order, I recommend reading this book before Twice Tempted.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Opening Theme "Moon Pride"

This is the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Opening theme song, "Moon Pride." It is pretty catchy and provides a nice introduction to the beginning of Sailor Moon. The animation looks so breathtakingly spectacular (the scene at 2:51 is epic). The Sailor Senshi (Scouts) poses also stay true to the original 1992 version. I must say Tuxedo Mask (Kamen) looks handsome! Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New 2014 TV Shows: "The Strain" (FX) and "Gotham" (FOX)

Two new supernatural-action/adventure shows will premiere this summer that may interest you. The Strain (FX), a 13-episode vampire horror show, premieres Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm EST. Gotham, a prequel to Batman, premieres Monday, September 22, 2014 on FOX. Time TBD.

The Strain: A plane lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport with the lights off and doors sealed. Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find two hundred corpses and four survivors. The situation deteriorates when the bodies begin disappearing from morgues. Goodweather and a small group of helpers find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the entire city, from an ancient threat to humanity. (Wikipedia)
Gotham: A new recruit in Captain Sarah Essen's Gotham City Police Department, Detective James Gordon is paired with Harvey Bullock to solve one of Gotham's most high-profile cases ever: the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes' son, Bruce, now in the care of his butler Alfred, which further compels Gordon to catch the killer. Along the way, Gordon must confront gang boss Fish Mooney, as well as many of Gotham's future villains, such as Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot. Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy's future in becoming the Dark Knight. (Wikipedia)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (2012)

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (2012) is a Japanese supernatural anime written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki. It takes place in Europe and North America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The story has two arcs: 1) Phantom Blood:Jonathan Joestar/Dio Brando and 2) Battle Tendency: Joseph Joestar/Pillar Men. It contains 26 episodes.

First arc (Phantom Blood): In 19th century England, young aristocrat Jonathan Joestar finds himself locked in a bitter rivalry with Dio Brando, a working-class boy who Jonathan's father took under his wing after the death of Dio's father. The story begins when Dio's father rescues Jonathan's father from a carriage accident. Jonathan's father felt forever grateful and decides to adopt Dio as his own child. However, a darkness lurks in Dio's heart. Discontent with his station in life, Dio's fathomless lust to reign over all eventually leads him to seek the supernatural powers of an ancient Aztec stone mask in the Joestar's possession—an artifact that will forever change the destiny of Dio and Jonathan for generations to come.

Second arc (Battle Tendency): Fifty years later, in 1938 New York City, Jonathan's grandson Joseph Joestar must take up his grandfather's mission and master the abilities necessary to destroy the stone mask and its immensely powerful creators who threaten humanity's very existence, the Pillar Men. Joseph's journey takes him to Mexico and eventually Italy where he must train for the ultimate life-or-death battle. The mysterious red stone of Aja has the power to create the ultimate warrior. With his new companions, Joseph masters the art of the ripple. Like his grandfather, Joseph has no choice but to destroy the Pillar Men once and for all.

Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a very popular long-running manga series in Japan. Since its debut in the 1980s, it has sold over 80 million copies. As part of its 25th anniversary, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure became an anime series. The author uses 80s popular culture (e.g., Wham!, R.E.O. Speedwagon) among the characters of the story. The character design portrays men in uber-muscular form (bodybuilders). I was surprised that this series captured my attention and interest since I normally do not watch this type of genre. As a woman, I thought it would be another Dragon Ball plot, but I was totally wrong. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure show is for adult audiences, weaveing pivotal events in history and Aztec mythology to create a highly intense and exciting storyline. Lastly, the comedy is good, making the characters both light-hearted (especially Joseph Joestar) and enjoyable to watch. I also enjoyed how the fighters explain their moves since I have no martial arts training background. I highly recommend the series. It should be available on DVD in Japanese subtitles and English dub. Watch the trailers below:

Phantom Blood
Battle Tendency

Stay tuned for the sequel, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (2014)!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2)

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

The Immortal Crown, by Richelle Mead, is the second novel in the new Age of X series. The RUNA (Republic of United North America) is a new country that encompasses the former United States and Canada. In this post-apocalyptic era, humans are encouraged to mate across racial groups to increase their immune system to the Mephistopheles virus that nearly destroyed the world's human population. Justin and Mae are assigned to a diplomatic delegation into neighboring country, Arcadia (former southern United States). This expedition is also headed by Lucian Darling, Justin's old friend and rival.

In Arcadian society, women are commodities (literally second-class citizens) and religion is intertwined with government. During the trip, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity (Odin). Meanwhile, Mae has another reason for joining this delegation. Although she grudingly poses as Justin's concubine, she has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. Justin finally learns the truth behind the Arcadian's meeting with Gemman delegation: Arcadia wants to conquer the RUNA and impose their religious deity on the Gemman people.

While Justin and Mae try to escape out of Arcadia without arousing suspicion, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret. The war between elect-special humans gets real when Mae experiences a tragedy that leaves her both vulnerable and scared for her life.

Once again, Mead delivers another excellent novel in her new Age of X series. Dystopian science fiction genre has become more popular thanks to the successes of book-to-film franchises, The Hunger Games and Divergent. The ending will surprise and motivate fans to wait for Book 3. While the first book introduces readers to the world of RUNA, the second book focuses more on the budding relationship between Justin and Mae and their reliance on gods who await their return to the world. I speculate that the third book will focus on the elect-special humans and particularly how Justin, a servitor who refuses to accept a deity, will survive on the gameboard of the gods. This series is so good that I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Age of X series! 

[February 2019] At this point, there is no official announcement on when Richelle Mead will resume this series. I liked the world-building and mythology that she was able to weave so seamlessly in this sci-fi thriller series. Plus, it's a series targeted for young adults over age 21!! However, I do think better marketing would have helped this series pick up sales. Ultimately, it will be up to her publisher to decide if a third book, The Eye of Andromeda, is warranted. See Richelle Mead's official response from Goodreads:

The publishers dropped the Age of X series before the release of book 3 due to low sales. However, despite the low sales Mead commented, "For those still upset with its status, here's the thing. In two years, The Immortal Crown has sold as many copies as The Glittering Court has in one month. You don't even want to know how it compares to VA's sales. I still love Age of X, but publishers don't. So it currently has no one to publish it. Which isn't the end of the world. I have enough "street cred" to self-pub it, but contracted books have to come first. I've signed a legal agreement with publishers, and I have to deliver their books by the arranged deadlines. Which is okay. Because I love those books too. But it all requires a lot of patience to get everything out at the appropriate time!"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Side Jobs (Harry Dresden Series Anthology)

Side Jobs, by Jim Butcher, is the first anthology of the Harry Dresden files. It contains 11 short stories plus a never-before-published novella that takes place right after the latest installment, Changes. Here is the synopsis:
Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher-a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious. Also included is a novella exclusive to this collection that takes place after the cliff-hanger ending of the April 2010 hardcover, Changes. This is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan as well as a perfect introduction for readers ready to meet Chicago's only professional wizard.

Fans of the Harry Dresden series will appreciate this collection. This anthology is a mixed bag, ranging from Butcher's first attempt to fiction that wasn't of professional publishable quality to short stories around and between novels. First-time readers will feel lost reading this anthology; you are better off starting from the beginning with Stormfront. Loyal fans will appreciate the clarification that the short stories offer, including hearing another major character's point of view of Harry Dresden. There's also a special treat for fans who may want to skip the short stories and head straight for the never-before-published novella taking place after the wild and pivotal breaking point in Changes. I highly recommend this novel to Butcher fans who just want to learn more about crazy, wizardly world of Harry Dresden.

Stay tuned for the next novel in the Harry Dresden series, Ghost Story.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Anime: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Premieres July 2014!

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal will premiere this summer on July 5, 2014! It is a new Sailor Moon anime for the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon produced by Toei Animation and originally created by Naoko Takeuchi. The new 26-episode series will stream worldwide twice a month for one year with Kotono Mitsuishi reprising the starring title role. The anime will also star Hisako Kanemoto as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury, Rina Satou as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars, Ami Koshimizu as Makoto Kino/Sailor Jupiter, and Shizuka Itou as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus. The new anime is scheduled to run on the first and third Saturdays every month, beginning July 5 at 7:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time). On May 16th, Viz Media, a North American anime and manga distributor, announced that they have licensed Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal after their panel at Anime Central. Cruncyroll will do Internet streaming. For more information, visit Anime News Network (ANN). It is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray.

ANN gave a synopsis of the story inspired by Naoko Takeuchi's original manga:

Usagi Tsukino is a second-year middle school girl who is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she is full of energy. One day, she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon on her forehead, and she transforms into Sailor Moon, a sailor-uniformed pretty guardian of love and justice! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi seems to have a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other guardians and to protect the princess. Meanwhile, the queen of the Dark Kingdom, Queen Beryl, also sends minions to the town where Usagi lives to obtain the Illusionary Silver Crystal, which has immense power. This causes strange events to unfold ...Can Sailor Moon really find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other Sailor guardians, and protect the princess ...!?

I am so ecstatic that I was jumping for joy when I heard the news. Sailor Moon is my favorite childhood anime series. I cannot wait to see how the new adaptation plays out next month! Watch the official trailer below:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: Bite Club, Last Breath, and Black Dawn (Morganville Vampires #10-12)

Bite ClubAfter discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble. 

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare—knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other—or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire—accompanied by her friends and frenemies—to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville.

Last Breath: With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace. She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone new to town-a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's latest resident, Claire is certain Magnus isn't merely human. But is he a vampire-or something else entirely?

Black Dawn: With its eclectic mix of vampire and human citizens, Morganville, Texas, has always been a risky place to call home. But with the invasion of the vampire’s deadliest enemy, Morganville isn’t just in danger—it’s dying…

Claire Danvers and her friends get their hands full when they must battle the vampire's worst enemies: Bishop and the draug. In Bite Club, Bishop reappears to seek vengeance against Amelie, the town's ironclad ruler. Michael and Eve finally decide to test the town's rules on vampire-human marriage. In Last Breath and Black Dawn, the vampires' secrets are revealed: Amelie and her vampires had been running from the draug ("water vampires") for centuries with no way to destroy them. The vampires had a few strong hits here and there but usually at a great cost. Morganville was supposed to be a safe haven for vampires since it's located in the desert away from water sources. This time, however, the Morganville vampires have no where else to go. When Claire discovers the draug's weakness, hope is in the air. So, vampires and humans go down fighting -- not without sacrifices.

This was an interesting arc because it exposed the vampires' secrets and weaknesses. I always wondered why Morganville, Texas was picked as the setting for the town. Furthermore, Claire begins to question her own future in Morganville. If the vampires no longer have a powerful foe, what will become of the human residents of Morganville? The Bishop and draug sagas have been a fun and adventurous ride, and I look forward to the last arc in the series (hard to believe it will be over so soon!

Stay tuned for the thirteenth book in the Morganville Vampires series, Bitter Blood: The Morganville Vampires .

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ghost Caught on Restaurant Camera

From Iowa's TV station, KWWL and the Huffington Post:
One area restaurant might have caught a ghost on camera.

At least, that's one explanation.

Chuck & Edna's Maid-Rite in Cascade has two possible instances of paranormal activity caught on camera. Owner Pat Orr said his surveillance cameras caught something spooky one night in mid-April.

In the first video, dated April 14 at 6 p.m., a shadowy shape is seen approaching the kitchen's dish-washing sink. It moves haltingly and occasionally, not fluidly.

Some say it looks like a shadow. Others say it could have been a bug that landed on the camera. One thing is for sure: it's unexplained.

"We found you can't make a shadow on the floor back there because of all the lights. Some people said it's a bug on the lens," Orr said. "I don't know what the thing is."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: Strike the Blood (2013-2014)

Strike the Blood is a Japanese fantasy/supernatural anime that takes place in contemporary Japan. It contains 24 episodes.

The Fourth Progenitor is the world's strongest vampire who should only exist in legends. This phantom vampire appeared in Japan with his 12 familiars. For the observation and oliberation of the Fourth Progenitor, the Lion King Organization has decided to dispatch an attack mage (Sword Shaman / "sword-maiden") to watch over him. However, for unknown reasons, the organization sent an apprentice named Yukina Himeragi for the task. She comes to the special demon city, Itokami City, wielding the strongest anti-progenitor spiritual spear. Her task is to find out the true nature of the Fourth Progenitor, Akatsuki Kojou.

Strike the Blood was a great show even though the harem and fan service was a little over the top. The vampire concept was unique, and the supernatural battles kept the plot far from boredom. In addition, the ending leaves the idea open for a sequel (which I hope they do because it would make a fantastic addition to the series). There is also a hint of budding romance between the main characters. I highly recommend the show.

[Updated February 2019]: There are two sequels to Strike the Blood that premiered in 2016 and 2018.

Opening Theme: #1: "Strike the Blood" by Kisida Kyodan and The Akebosi Rockets #2: "Fight 4 Real" by ALTIMA

Ending Theme: #1: "Rainbow Heart Rainbow Dream" by Yuka Iguchi #2: "Strike my soul" by Yuka Iguchi #3: "Signal" by Kanon Wakeshima

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review: Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter #4)

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy both Dmitri and Honor, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more.

Archangel's Blade, by Nalini Singh, is the fourth novel in the Guild Hunter series. Dmitri, vampire and leader of Raphael's Seven (a group of warriors who swore their oath and loyalty to serve the archangel), comes across a case that stirs hidden memories from a life centuries ago. The severed head marks a distinctive tattoo stirs up anger from the Maker who tormented and turned him. Thus, his desire to discover the truth is nothing compared to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo. Her presence alone blindsided him for once -- feelings of love he buried and never thought were possible to awaken.

Savaged in a brutal attack by vampires that almost killed her, Honor St. John was rescued by the Guild. In return, she joined the Guild as a hunter and expert on ancient languages. She has been assigned to the Dmitri's case, but she is nowhere near ready to come face-to-face with the seductive and lethally dangerous vampire. Dmitri can't get enough of Honor's mysterious hold on her and vows to punish and eradicate those who abused her. Furthermore, Dmitri is determined to end the darkness that lurks in his soul, even if it means facing a nemesis much older and powerful than his nearly 1000 year as a vampire.

I really enjoyed this book because it focused on Dmitri, Raphael's righthand man. It's nice to read about other characters in the main cast from their perspective. This plot device reminds me of the Night Huntress World series by Jeaniene Frost, focusing on other characters' backgrounds. The female protagonist, Honor, was a breath of fresh air for Dmitri, finally bringing him out of the darkness and painful past. The mystery and action was also very good. I highly recommend the book.

Stay tuned for the fifth novel in the Guild Hunter series, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter). (Finally, a book about Jason!)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review: Twice Tempted (Night Prince #2)

Dating the prince of darkness has its choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity..."

Twice Tempted, by Jeaniene Frost, is the second novel in the Night Prince trilogy. Leila's psychic abilities are malfunctioning and she does not know what the future holds for her. Even worse, her darkly handsome vampire lover, Vlad, has been acting distant around her. Although a mere mortal, Leila refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment. She abruptly leaves his Romanian castle and heads back home to the United States.

Circumstances change, however, when when Leila arrives back at the carnival circuit. A bomb explodes, killing those close and dear to her. She later learns that the explosion was targeted for her, and the killer may be closer than she realizes. As a result, Leila decides to take matters into her own hands and find the killer before she ends up in an early grave. Meanwhile, Vlad must determine whether to confess his feelings for Leila or lose her to a enemy bent on revenge.

Frost delivers another wonderful edition to the Night Prince series, an off-shot to the Night Huntress series featuring Cat and Bones. In this series, Master vampire, Vlad Tepesh (also known as Dracula, although he rather not be called that name) gets his own side-story featuring the dangers he must endure to protect the woman he loves. I love the fact that he gets a trilogy for Frost fans to indulge and savor. The plot is both intriguing and suspenseful that it will take both lovers to solve this mystery. I won't spoil the details, but I highly recommend this mini-series.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Night Prince series, Bound by Flames.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Master of Mosquiton (1997)

Master of Mosquiton (1997) is a Japanese supernatural anime. The original animation video (OAV) contained six episodes (30 minutes each).

The story takes place in 1920s Shanghai. A young girl named Inaho uses her blood to awaken an ancient vampire that she learned from her grandmother so she can obtain the O-part. It is said that the O-part can grant immortality. Thus, Inaho dreams of being young and beautiful forever for her servant, Mosquiton. She begins her quest for the O-part at 15. As the years go by, however, she gets increasingly more desperate. The search for the O-part will eventually lead the team to London where a giant pyramid mysteriously forms in the middle of the city! Inaho also does not realize what danger she has gotten herself into when an ancient enemy and ex-fiancee from the past re-appear for Mosquiton.

Master of Mosquiton is not well-known but it is definitely worth the watch. First, the animationi n the OAV is top-notch. Second, the opening music fits the theme and time frame (early 1900s) of the anime. Third, the main cast is enjoyable to watch. While Inaho is an annoying teen girl, Mosquiton and his servants are what make the show a success. In addition, Camille (ex-fiancee) always bring comedy to the show. Overall, this show has serious replay value even if it was produced in 1997. You may have to re-watch it again to better understand what's actually going on. I do not recommend the 1999 anime series version because it is a sub-par retelling of the 1997 OAV.