Book Review: Blood Moon Magic By Ashley McCleo!

A few months ago, Ashley McCleo released the first book in her new series, The Fanged Fae series! Titled Blood Moon Magic, this duology centers on a character named Mauri coming to terms with her surprising heritage as Fae royalty- with the added twist that she was bitten by a vampire! I wrote the review for this book on Goodreads back in April. Here’s the blurb:

Mauri always knew she was different.

But exiled fae royalty? She never imagined that.

After a vampire bites Mauri, three hunky fae guardians appear and her secret history surfaces. As does the terrifying truth that Mauri must find the attacker—her vampiric sire—and kill him before the next blood moon.

If she fails she’ll become a lethal nosferatu, a creature totally subservient to her sire and a peon any vampire leader would desire to control.

With the blood moon only days away, Mauri is short on time and battling an increasing craving for blood. And her conflicting feelings toward one of her guardians aren’t helping either.

Can her fae guardians help Mauri find her sire before the next blood moon? Or will she be transformed and unleashed on a supernatural world she’s just beginning to understand and love?

And the cover, which might just be one of the most gorgeous book covers I’ve ever seen:

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Mauri is gorgeous! And the way the red mixes with gold is just beautiful. Anyway, here’s the review I wrote on Goodreads:

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review 🙂

After reading Ashley McCleo’s amazing Starseed Trilogy, I was so excited to start her next series! Blood Moon Magic, the first book in the Fanged Fae series, begins with the main character, Mauri, getting attacked by a vampire in a parking garage as she is leaving work. She awakens later to find three extremely handsome men with otherworldly characteristics telling her she is in danger and they have to protect her!

Naturally, Mauri has no idea what is going on, but she soon learns from the men (who turn out to be her Fae guardians) that she is a Fae princess! Since she was bitten by vampire, she is in danger of turning into a Fanged Fae, or nosferatu. A Fanged Fae is a powerful, lethal creature that is a cross between a faerie and a vampire. The only way Mauri can prevent herself from turning into one is to hunt down and kill her sire, or maker, before midnight of the next full moon… which is easier said than done!

Mauri is not one to give up easily, so she immediately sets out to find her sire, which leads her into dangerous situations. On top of that, she is also trying to hone in on her magical skills as well as her burgeoning vampiric skills in an attempt to defeat him. As days go on, though, she finds herself wondering if she wants to give up her vampire side.

Without giving away any spoilers, a person Mauri never would have suspected set her up so she would become a Fanged Fae. She has to make some difficult decisions and I feel for her!

I really enjoyed this book. Mauri is an excellent character! She is strong and beautiful and kicks ass too! The supporting cast of characters (her Fae guardians, Rowan the witch, and Elizabeth the vampire) are all wonderful as well. I absolutely cannot wait to see where this series goes next!!

I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads!

Freeloader and C64 Mini Fun!

As many of you know, a little while back I bought the last two Animal Crossing games I needed for my collection: どうぶつの森+ (Doubutsu no Mori+) and どうぶつの森 e+ (Doubutsu no Mori e+). Okay, it was like 2 1/2 years ago… read the blog post where I talk about getting them here! Anyway, I had big plans to either mod my GameCube or buy a Japanese GameCube, but I did neither of those things. My husband and I received a GameCube from his mom’s collection after she passed away, and I figured I would mod that one. Nope. Turns out that’s way more of a pain in the ass then I thought it would be due to the fact that Nintendo uses some weird ass screws to hold everything together. So one day while browsing online, I found:

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The Freeloader/Action replay combo! These suckers are really hard to come by, at least in my experience. Every single time I looked up the Freeloader (which tricks your GameCube and allows you to play games from other regions) it was expensive and not worth getting. For whatever reason, I found this Freeloader/Action Replay combo for like $29, and I jumped on the chance to get it! (For the record, I have no interest in using Action Replay)

When it came in, I was SO EXCITED! At first, I couldn’t get it to work. It wouldn’t let me click on anything! After turning my system on and off a few times, though, I was able to get it working. I popped in どうぶつの森+ (Doubutsu no Mori+) and…

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YAY!!! So amazing! I played a little bit of the game, just to get a feel for it. I was so happy!

I did turn the system off and reload a few times just to make sure everything was saving properly, which it was. I am a little uncomfortable with constantly opening and closing my GameCube though, so my husband and I think it’s best if I use his mom’s old GameCube instead. I haven’t tried out どうぶつの森 e+ (Doubutsu no Mori e+) yet, but I will!

Also, I just wanted to mention really quickly that since I have a need to purchase All The Small Things (haha, shitty Blink-182 reference), when I saw that there was a mini version of the Commadore 64… well, obviously I wanted it! I saw it at GameStop for $90 but gave it the middle finger and moved on because no way did I want to spend that much on it! Two weeks later, Amazon had it on sale for $35, so…

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Of course I got it! It’s so darn cute just like all the other mini systems I have. I haven’t tried it out yet, and I’m kind of bummed that the little keyboard is just for show, but oh well. I’m still glad I got it!

Samsara: Deluxe Edition Review!

*Note: This article was originally published on LadiesGamers.com in March 2019. Click here to see the original article! 🙂

Game: Samsara: Deluxe Edition
System: Nintendo Switch
Publisher/Developer: Marker
Price: $9.99 | £7.99
Age Rating: EU 3+ | USA E
Release Date: December 31th 2018 (UK/EU/AU), January 10th 2019 (US/CAN)

Review code kindly provided by Marker

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When I was first asked to review Samsara: Deluxe Edition, I was pretty excited! I enjoy some puzzle games every now and then, and after watching a trailer for it, I thought it was something I might enjoy. If I’m brutally honest, however, I was excited at the beginning of the game; by the end of the game, I was more than ready for it to be over with. Read on for my short review!

Story

Nintendo.com describes Samsara: Deluxe Edition like this:

While playing in the park, Zee follows a squirrel through a portal to a world of echoes, inhabited by a shadow child. Surrounded by the unknown and trapped in a series of realms both confusing and dangerous, the youngsters must avoid slipping into the pool between dimensions, embarking on a voyage of discovery and awakening they share with the player, up and down staircases, through light and dark, across the upside-down and the right side-up to their eventual freedom.

I’ll admit, if I hadn’t have read this, I wouldn’t know what the exact story was behind the game! When you start a new game, you are greeted with a little cutscene of a boy chasing a squirrel and getting sucked into a portal. You have to guide both Zee and his shadow into their respective portals to clear the levels. Easier said than done!

Graphics and Sound

To me, the graphics are nothing spectacular. They aren’t bad by any means… they are just kind of “there” and don’t stand out to me in any way. Also, let me just say that for about half the game I thought Zee was supposed to be a little girl… only when I was reading more about the game did I realize that Zee is a boy. Oops!

Some of the later background level designs are kind of cool though. I like the spooky looking neighborhood and the creepy carnival themes the best.

There isn’t really much in the way of music in this game. In fact, the only time music plays is when you set Zee in motion- it’s kind of weird and I didn’t care for it. Most of the ambient sound effects were a little on the annoying side. As a matter of fact, most of the time I just played this game with the sound turned down!

Gameplay

Gameplay in Samsara: Deluxe Edition is quite straightforward. Your goal is to get Zee (and a little later on, his shadow as well) into the portal! When you begin a level, you are presented with a number of blocks on the right side of the screen. You can place these blocks almost anywhere you like, rotating them as you see fit.

You will notice there is a line dividing the light and dark parts of the world. I guess this is what the description is referring to as “the pool between dimensions!” If you place a block on the dark side, it will be reflected on the light side. Once you place a block, gravity will take hold and pull the blocks towards the dimensional pool.

Once you have the blocks placed to your liking, you can set Zee and his shadow into motion by pressing Y. If either of them fail to get into their respective portal, you can restart the level and move the blocks around as much as you need to until you get it just right!

Fun Factor and Replay Value

At first, I really enjoyed Samsara. The levels were fun and challenging. However, when I was about halfway through the game, I found myself getting kind of tired of it. The levels were becoming more and more difficult, and the blocks just didn’t seem to behave the way I would imagine they were supposed to. I encountered a glitch or two in which blocks would randomly face different directions and I had to reset the entire level to get it to work properly.

I don’t mind when games are difficult. However, because this game is nothing but puzzle after puzzle, I found it quite repetitive. When I knew I was near the end of the game, I couldn’t wait for it to be over with!

Samsara: Deluxe Edition for the Switch comes with an additional 24 levels. I choose to end my playthough at the last level of the original game; I wasn’t in the mood to dabble with any of the extra levels.

As far as replay value is concerned, I don’t really feel like there is much. Once you know how to complete a level, there isn’t much reason for you to go back and play it again.

Closing Remarks

My total playtime for this game was around 4 hours. When I first started playing this game, I really enjoyed it. However, gameplay became repetitive and later levels can be pretty frustrating. The graphics are just okay, and there isn’t much in the way of music. This game may be better suited for people who just want to challenge themselves every now and then, but I don’t think it’s the type of puzzle game that has everlasting appeal and charm. I also don’t think it should be played for long periods of time- playing a level or two here and there is probably best. There isn’t much reason to come back and play levels after you clear them. With all of this being said, my final rating for the game is I’m Not Sure.

Just because I wasn’t a huge fan of the game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot! Samsara does have many positive reviews around the internet. If you’re into puzzle games, give it a try and see if you like it!

Book Review: Phoenix Unleashed By Margo Ryerkerk!

Back in March, I reviewed the final book in The Ardere Series by Margo Ryerkerk- Phoenix Unleashed! Since then, this series has been renamed as the Dark Legacy Series, so that might confuse a few people looking for previous books in the series! Anyways, since this was the 5th and final book in the series, I was really looking forward to seeing how everything ended! Here’s the blurb:

Bahadur has awoken.
His touch will enslave everyone.
Only Sierra can stop him.
Bahadur’s ascension shakes the world. Able to kill with one touch, steal supernatural auras, and turn humans into bloodthirsty henchmen, he’s invincible.

The only person who stands a chance to stop his tyranny is Sierra. Prepared to do whatever it takes to defeat him, she throws herself into danger. Unfortunately, her impulsiveness backfires and puts her in a worse position.

Desperate to undo her mistake, Sierra travels across the world to find the one magical object that might give her a fighting chance against Bahadur.

However, Bahadur is two steps ahead of her and makes a move no one expected.

Will Sierra find a way to triumph over him or will Bahadur succeed and drag the whole world into darkness?

Read it now to unlock the conclusion to the Dark Legacy series!

And the cover:

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Totally gorgeous!! Anyway, here’s my review for Phoenix Unleashed:

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review 🙂

The final book in the Ardere (oops, I mean the Dark Legacy) series is Phoenix Unleashed. Everything Sierra, Gavin and the others have been working to accomplish over the past few months has been compromised with the rise of Bahadur. Now, the focus is on training each of the Ardere factions to fight against him effectively.

At first, Sierra’s attitude really sucks. She seems high and mighty and acts like she is some brilliant war strategist who knows everything. Her haste almost gets people killed, so she kind of has to reel in her attitude a little bit. Even Gavin notices the change in Sierra, and he tells her at one point that her “sense of duty extends to everything but our relationship.”

While Sierra continues to tap into her Fluidus powers and gains power, she is taken captive by Bahadur. Again, she thinks she is more brilliant than him, and is constantly attempting to outsmart him. Bahadur said something I was thinking the entire time: “You think that after 18 years of being on this planet you can stop a plan that had been in the making for over 300 years?”

Without spoiling anything, the ending is pretty much what you would expect. Everything wraps up really neat and tidy. I’m glad the series ended on a good note, because I really enjoyed it as a whole. At the beginning of this book, I felt almost as though some of the characters lost a bit of dimension, but everyone kind of got their spark back by the middle of the book. Sierra’s know-it-all attitude annoyed me for most of the book, because I felt like it was such a sharp departure from how she is portrayed in the rest of the series. I don’t see her as much of a leader, though everyone around her seems to think she is.

Anyway, despite my minor gripes, this was a really good series that I enjoyed very much. I’m sad it’s over and I can’t wait to see what Margo Ryerkerk writes next! 🙂

I gave Phoenix Unleashed 4/5 stars on Goodreads!

End Game Thoughts: Puyo Puyo Tetris!

Game Title: Puyo Puyo Tetris
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Hours Played: around 2

About The Game

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Puyo Puyo Tetris is a game that came out for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. It was also released on several other platforms, but I played it on the Switch, so there ya go. This game combines two puzzle types- Puyo and Tetris. I’m a huge fan of Tetris, and I’ve played a Puyo-type game before (Kirby’s Avalanche) and had fun with it, so I thought why not? Plus, the game came with a couple cute keychains, and I’m a sucker for freebies!

What I Liked

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The main thing I liked about this game was the sheer number of modes that are available for you to play! Whether you prefer Puyo, Tetris, or strange combinations of both, there is something most everyone will enjoy. There’s even a story mode that’s totally whack and makes no sense, but who really buys a puzzle game for the story anyway?

What I Didn’t Like

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Playing Puyo Puyo is just okay- it’s not really my favorite thing to do. I much prefer Tetris, and fusing the two together is a bit awkward sometimes. I found myself gravitating toward one mode or the other instead of modes that combined the two play styles together. That’s not much of a gripe, just my personal preference.

However, one thing that really got on my nerves during this game- the characters’ annoying ass voices! Oh my lord. Every single one of them grated my eardrums, and there was no way to silence them. I often played with the volume turned way down because it annoyed me so much.

Closing Thoughts

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This game is fun, and it’s got so many different modes to try out. I tried all of them, and while some are better than others, there is definitely a good selection there. My favorite mode was one where the game would randomly switch back and forth between Tetris and Puyo. This is a good game to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time- or until your eardrums explode from the awful voices.

Memory Museum: Yoshi’s Safari!

Note: I originally wrote this post on LadiesGamers.com back in February 2019. Click here for the link to the original post! 🙂

A featured series on LadiesGamers.com: Memory Museum. Our earliest gaming memories to the backdrop of what was happening in our personal life. Plus, what was happening in the gaming world back then! 

It’s the year 1993. Nintendo releases a smaller redesigned NES, which allows cartridges to be inserted at the top of the console, instead of the front. They also bring us The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the GameBoy. Square releases Secret of Mana, and hasn’t yet joined forces with Enix. 

Over in America, Brandi  gets a Super Scope peripheral to play a very special game.  

Going on Safari with the Super Scope

There are many significant gaming memories I have throughout my life. After all, I started gaming at a very young age! When originally approached with the idea for this article, my first instinct was to write about Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo. I have a great love for that game (and the series as a whole), and I have so many childhood memories tied to it! However, I’ve previously written blog posts about the game, and I wanted to write about something a little different for this article. I looked through my Super Nintendo games and came across one that holds special significance for me: Yoshi’s Safari.

Yoshi’s Safari was a game that came out in 1993 for the Super Nintendo. This game was pretty unique in the fact that it required the Super Scope peripheral to play. I could go into the details of the Super Scope, but maybe we’ll save that for a different post! If you are unfamiliar, the Super Scope was basically a light gun peripheral that you rested on your shoulder. You aimed at the tv and looked through the scope of the gun, and that was how you played! Naturally, most of the games that were played using the Super Scope were shooters. Hence, Yoshi’s Safari was classified as a rail shooter.

When the Super Scope came out, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I got a few games for it, but the one that stood out to me the most was Yoshi’s Safari. According to Wikipedia, the plot of the game is as follows: “In this game, Mario and Yoshi have to save King Fret and his son Prince Pine of Jewellery Land from Bowser and his Koopalings.” Haha… I definitely don’t remember anything about that! Anyway, you ride on Yoshi’s back for the duration of the game, and you shoot at enemies with the Scope. It’s not horribly complex due to the fact that the levels automatically scroll, so almost anyone can pick up and play a few levels!

Yoshi’s Safari even appealed to non-gamers

So why is this game so special to me? Well, growing up, no one in my household really wanted to play video games with me. I would always beg my mom to play, but she just wasn’t into it. Same goes for my aunt, uncle, and grandparents. But something about Yoshi’s Safari drew interest from my mom and my uncle, and to my surprise, they actually wanted to play the game! I was thrilled to sit there and watch them play as they tried to make it to the end of the game! Of course, this meant that sometimes when I really wanted to play my Super Nintendo, it was occupied… but I digress!

One memory in particular stands out to me. I was staying at a friend’s house for a sleepover, but around 11p.m. I got sick and wanted to come home. She lived right across the street, so my mom walked over and brought me back home. I couldn’t believe it when I went to my room and found my uncle sitting there, playing Yoshi’s Safari! My mom told me they had snuck into my room to play while I was gone. Apparently it took them a few minutes to figure out how to hook everything up, but since they really wanted to play, they figured it out! I think they were pretty bummed that I came home…

Haven’t played Yoshi’s Safari in many years, though I still own it (and the Super Scope too!). I remember it fondly for its unique gameplay and the fact that this game was one of the few games I was able to convince members of my family to play. Because of this, Yoshi’s Safari will always hold a special place in my heart!

The Sunshine Blogger Award!

Somehow, I missed a post from Art of Redress (who, sadly, does not have a blog anymore… though he does post for The Well-Red Mage now and then!) back in September 2018 awarding me The Sunshine Blogger Award! Oops! I’m not sure how that even happened. So here I am, accepting my little award 9 months later! I really do appreciate it, even though it took me this long to respond. Anyway, here’s the rules for this lovely award:

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The Rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.

Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.

Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.

List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

So let’s get to the questions.

1. What is your favorite Sega game? 

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I’m going to have to go with Crazy Taxi. I’ll admit, I didn’t even play Crazy Taxi until it came out on the GameCube (I never had any Sega consoles until I reached adulthood!) but I loved that game and played it for so many hours.

2. What’s the furthest you’ve ever ran?

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Haha… that’s funny! I hate running. Hate, hate, hate. If you see me running, it means shit is going down, so you’d better run too!

3. Winter or summer?

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I love summer! Yeah, it gets hot as balls, but I love swimming and going to the beach. I enjoy winter too, even though we don’t really get much of one here.

4. If you could go back in time to stop All Saints covering Under The Bridge, would you?

I’m not familiar with All Saints, so I can’t really say.

5. Favourite comedy film?

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Hmm, this is a tough one. I like comedies, but for some reason I’m really drawing a blank here. *checks Pinterest for inspiration* Ya know what, I’m going with Bad Santa. Billy Bob Thornton is disgusting in this movie and I love it!

6. What mobile phone do you own?

I have an iPhone 8. It’s decent, but I find myself wishing for a bigger screen. My eyeballs ain’t what they used to be!

7. Favourite ice cream brand?

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I don’t really eat ice cream all that often, but good old Publix brand is what I usually buy if I get any!

8. Cinema snack of choice?

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If I get food at the theater, popcorn is a good choice obviously… but I also like getting either a hot dog or some nachos!

9. What is your worst gaming experience ever?

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Playing the shit stain known as Napoleon Dynamite for the PSP.

10. Last time you did a press up?

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It’s been awhile, haha! Probably since before my shoulder got all messed up like 2 years ago.

11. If you were a cat, what name would you hope your owners chose for you?

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Beelzebub. I’ll also accept Evil the Cat, like the little guy in the pic above (from Earthworm Jim!).

And there you have it! Since I was nominated for this award quite awhile ago, I’m not going to think up questions and stuff. I’m lazy, which y’all know by now! 🙂