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.


Review: Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)

As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs, is the ninth novel in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy, a Native American coyote shapeshifter, receives an unexpected phone call. The ex-wife of Alpha werewolf and mate, Adam Haumptman, shows up at their home and is on the run from a new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it.

However, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right. She has enough trouble with creepy fae and vampires watching her back. Mercy soon learns that ex-wife, Christy, has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Although Christy's actions annoy Mercy, a more dangerous threat has invaded Adam's territory. Christy's ex-boyfriend is more than a bad man. In fact, he may not be human at all. With the odds stacked heavily against the pack, Mercy must make a decision that may even forfeit her own life.

Once again, Briggs delivers an exceptional plot that includes a supernatural case that terrifies both Mercy and Adam. An ancient being from the Cayman Islands wants his woman back and will do everything, including senseless killing, to win her back. I was almost scared for Mercy because I thought this case would be her demise! Despite her tenacious personality, she is a mortal shapeshifter whose is more human than beast. Fortunately, Briggs introduces a new character that will complicate Mercy's life but is a godsend for both his humor and foresight on the case. I hope this new character reappears in future Mercy Thompson novels because he renewed my interest in the series.

Stay tuned for the ninth novel in the Mercy Thompson series, Fire TOuched.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Film Review: Divergent (2014)

Divergent is a 2014 action / science fiction / dystrophy motion picture that takes place in post-apocalyptic Chicago. It is based on the young adult novel with the same name by Veronica Roth.

In the world of Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, survivors are divided into five factions that cultivate a particular virtue: Candor (the honest); Abnegation (the selfless); Dauntless (the brave); Amity (the peaceful); and Erudite (the intelligent). Those who become ineligible become the faction-less, living in impoverished squalor. Every year on appointment day, all 16-year-olds must take a qualifying exam and select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, she must decide whether she will stay with her family (Abnegation) or join where she truly belongs. There is no turning back. Ultimately, she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

In her new faction (Dauntless), Beatrice renames herself as Tris and struggles to adapt to a new society. More importantly, Tris has a major secret, one she has kept hidden from everyone because she has been warned that it can mean ostracism and even death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel the entire faction system, she must make an ultimate decision -- to save those she loves or be killed in the process.

A lot of people thought Divergent was a rip-off of The Hunger Games. THG has Katniss and Divergent has Beatrice who both come from stigmatized groups and compete in dangerous situations. However, the similarities end there. The critics are wrong. I will argue that Divergent is even better. Divergent had a better cast, no love triangle, and the faction concept is innovative. Tris was the better heroine who could stand up for herself rather than relying on the supporting cast to save her. Tobias/Four is the better male lead than Peeta (at least Tris actually loved Tobias/Four whereas Katniss has to fake her relationship with Peeta for the media). The film revealed many surprises that I won't reveal because I don't want to spoil the key parts of the film. Overall, I completely LOVED Divergent and highly recommend it(particularly in IMAX!). Stay tune for the the sequel, Insurgent. I hope there will be a 2015 release!

Divergent (2014) trailer

Unfortunately, the movie series ended after Allegiant due to less than stellar performance at the box office compared to success of the The Hunger Games series. If you are interested in finding out what happens to Beatrice in the finale, check out the Divergent series 4-book paperback series by Veronica Roth.

Review: 'Road to Nowhere' and 'The Wicked Heart' and 'Monster' by Christopher Pike

This post contains three reviews of teen horror/thriller novels written in the early 1990s by Christopher Pike.

In Monster (1992), Mary Carlson shoots the head cheerleader and one of the football players at a house party but she misses her ex-boyfriend. She claims that the three teens were no longer human. After her arrest, Angela investigates Mary's claims that the teens were actually monsters. However, Angela's desire to fit in with the cool kids comes at a price. After learning the truth and craving for blood, Angela must destroy the evil before it's too late.

In Road to Nowhere (1992, 2002), Theresa Chafey ran away home to mend her broken heart. Driving north along the California coast, she picks up two mysterious hitchhikers: Poppy Corn and Freedom Jack. Together the three of them tell stories: Teresa of her devastating relationship with her boyfriend, Poppy of a sad young woman she once knew, and Freedom of a talented young man with a violent temper. Yet as they talk on this dark and stormy night, a darker story unfolds around them. A story of life and death, of redemption and damnation. It will be the longest night of Teresa's life. She has to make a decision whether to face her fear or die with a broken heart.

The Wicked Heart (1993) involves a high school senior named Dusty Shame who happens to be a serial killer. He has murdered three young women, yet Dusty did not want to hurt anybody. There was something inside him--a mysterious voice--that compelled him to kill. Sheila Hardolt has lost her best friend to Dusty's insane attacks. As a result, she is determined to unravel the clues behind fed Dusty's evil compulsion and find the missing girls' bodies, including her best friend. Racing against time, her journey will lead her to a wicked past that no man should ever have to endure in the face of evil.

Overall, I enjoyed reading these teen thrillers. My favorite story was The Wicked Heart because I was engrossed in the storyline of murder and suspense. Moreover, Pike makes you feel both sympathetic and intrigued with the main cast. He understands how teenagers think and behave emotionally. He covers typical themes of peer pressure, sense of belonging, and self-worth. The novels are easy to read and finish in under a week. Since these books were written in the 1990s, it's amazing how the technology (not everyone carried sophisticated cell phones around) was different back then. Yet, I found the plots more interesting because main cast was forced to search for clues in libraries and talk to people in face-to-face interviews. I can't believe that I had never read these books when I was a teenager! Back then, I was a huge R. L. Stine Fear Street fan as well as Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Stay tuned for more Christopher Pike novels this summer!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Creepy Ghost Haunts New Hampshire Store

A creepy ghost haunts a convenience store in a small town in New Hampshire. According to KTVU and the Huffington Post:

GILFORD, N.H. — Employees at a store in a small New Hampshire town claim they are "freaked out" after a surveillance video showed a glass lid mysteriously shattering on the floor.

A video reportedly taken from the Ellacoya Country Store in Gilford, shows a glass top to a cake display get thrown from the counter and shatter even though no one is see on the video.

"I heard this big bang," employee Heidi Boyd told Manchester, N.H., TV station WMUR. "I heard this big bang and crash," said Boyd. "I walked around and looked and it was on the floor. It took a couple of minutes to set in ... still freaking me out."

You can watch the video of the incident below:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #8)

But who—or what—could possibly be powerful enough to out-magic a shifter? Merit is about to go toe to toe, and cold steel to cold heart, to find out.

Wild Things, by Chloe Neill, is the eighth novel in the Chicagoland Vampires series. Merit and Ethan Sullivan have sought refuge with the North American Central Park to escape law enforcement that have accused Ethan of a crime that he did not commit. During their hideaway place, a strange and twisted magic ripped through the shapeshifters' ceremony, sending mythological creatures on a murdering rampage. It has left the pack mourning the deaths of their comrades and wanting blood. Gabriel Keene, the pack Apex, looks to Merit and Ethan for help. Their investigation leads down a dark magical path that not even Merit could have imagined--someone is capturing and imprisoning supernaturals. When the clues lead to an old case, Merit seeks the help of a friend to stop the madness before it consumes all of Chicago.

This was a fun novel to read, especially how Neill referred back to an old (and much anticipated) case in Biting Cold. The plot was different (for once, both Ethan and Merit were vulnerable to an enemy they could not understand its moves or motive) and, as a result, the story exceeded my expectations. The book also shifts into a new arc regarding the future of Ethan's role with Cadogan House. Will he stay or will he challenge the current leader of the Greenwich Presidium? Although Merit doesn't want Ethan to leave, this is a golden opportunity for him to expand his power base. I didn't think Neill would revisit the angel arc, but I look forward to reading it in future novels. Things keep getting weirder for Merit, but no one knows the Windy Center better than she does.

Stay tuned for the ninth novel in the Chicagoland Vampire series, Blood Games.