music review · review

Music Minute | Blessings by Laura Story

This is one of those songs that is both inspiring and contemplative at the same time. Every time that I hear it, it makes me think back on the bad times in my life and it makes me wonder where I would be if I hadn’t gone through them.

Now, I’m not saying that they were fun or that I was able to keep my faith through each and every dark moment, but all of those good and bad days have brought me to where I am today…

Stepping back on the path towards God. Rebuilding my relationship with Him piece by piece. And trying each day to be a reflection of His love to an ever-darkening world.

blog · book review · review

Book Review | Altered Heart by Kate Steele

Altered Heart by Kate Steele was the first book I read for my O.W.L.’s back in April and it was a good one to kick off the book challenge with.

Mick Matranga is basically a supernatural enforcer who hunts down bad guys and gives them their due, whether it be jail time or death. It’s his job and he likes it.

But when the victim of his latest case, one Rio Hardin, turns out to be his mate, Mick isn’t sure what to do.

Widowed for four years after being happily married to the woman of his dreams, Mick doesn’t need the hassle of falling in love and then losing another person he cares about. He chooses to keep Rio at a distance, even while the human-turned-werewolf comes closer and closer to his first shift.

Rio hates that he’s been turned and is terrified of his first real shift. After the psycho-alpha who bit him forced him from shifting into his wolf during his first full moon, all he can think of is the absolute pain he experienced. When Mick tells him that sex can help distract a were from the pain of the shift, he begins to have hope that things won’t be so bad with Mick around.

But Mick is too bull-headed to accept what Rio wants and ends up torturing the both of them when he refuses to open up and accept Rio as his mate.

My favorite thing about Altered Heart was how believable Rio and Mick were as characters. Their decisions made sense; from Rio’s running away from home to Mick’s refusal to start anything serious with Rio, there is a reason for every choice they make. (even if they are stupid decisions, lol)

Altered Heart is a solid 3/5 stars for me. The writing and world building is solid, but it didn’t blow me out of the water. It was good enough that I think I’ll read the sequel Amended Soul if I can get my hands on it.

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Loose ID
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

blog · book review · review · two book tuesday

Two Book Tuesday

Still dealing with the Covid-19 craziness. Even though I’m blessed to be allowed to continue working during this time, I can feel mental exhaustion creeping in. So, I’ve been diving into various fictional worlds as a means of escape… it’s also a free vacation, in it’s own way.

The Elven King’s Blade is actually a web-based serial title, written by X. Aratare (or RaytheReign).

Ciaran has been fighting an unknown wasting disease his entire life, a disease which took the life of his mother, and has resigned himself to an early death. He decides to travel to a family-owned cabin with his pet fox, Twig, who adopted him when he was a young boy and has never left his side.

What he finds in the small, country town is proof that he didn’t hallucinate the black riders he and his mother fought and that there is more to the world than he ever imagined. After saving Elven King Aethaden’s life and discovering what he really is, Ciaran decides to follow his destiny and go to the elven realm to fight the ‘forces of evil’ there.

If you’re at all interested in web-serials, then I would suggest checking this title out.

This book was suggested to me by a co-worker at the library. She is very well-read and had only just started reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

I am familiar with Bardugo’s young adult works, but hadn’t heard about this venture into adult fiction.

As an urban fantasy title, I am expecting it to be darker than my usual fare, but am excited to hop into the world she’s created. 🙂

blog · review · video game review

Video Game Review | Seasons after Fall

I’m not sure what to say about Seasons after Fall, mainly because it was not at all what I thought it would be… and not in a good way.

After the first hour and a half, it began to feel like I was just following the same actions over and over again. The mechanics, which at first were interesting, quickly became clunky and annoying… after seeing the seasons change the first few times it no longer evoked any kind of awe in me.

There is one part of the game that was really interesting. You’re required to solve puzzles by blowing fog away so you can access new parts of the level. But this is only utilized the once and then it’s back to the same old actions.

Lookit this cute little sleepy fox!

The most difficult trophy for me to get was also the most annoying out of all of them. The worst part of the game is that you are doing the exact same things in the exact same locations to both progress the game and to earn trophies.

“A bird” bugged me the most because it requires you to happen to stop in the right location and SIT THERE for an extended amount of time.

Doing absolutely nothing.

At no other point in the game are you asked to pause and wait for something to magically happen, so unless you’re trophy hunting you probably won’t ever get this one.

A bird
Very Rare 12.9%
In the Woods of the Ancestors, listen carefully, find the bird and keep very still.

The story was weird and disjointed, which may have been what they were going for, but it didn’t help further the plot of the game for me. Rather, it felt like here is some random dialogue and there is a cut scene and now a different character is talking to you… but none of it felt connected.

Ultimately, other than the beautiful visuals and fun soundtrack, Seasons after Fall was kind of a disappointing waste of time. Honestly, it felt like it just dragged on for too long… maybe if they’d cut the last third of the game it would have been more fun, but towards the end I wasn’t looking forward to playing.

I’m really sad about how disappointed I am with this game, but I guess you can’t expect every game to be perfect for you. Maybe I just wasn’t the audience they were looking for?

Title: Seasons after Fall
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
Genre: Adventure
Platform: PS4
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Trophy difficulty: Monotonous

review · video game review

Video Game Review | A King's Tale

After thoroughly enjoying my play through of Final Fantasy XV, when I heard there was a prequel in the PlayStation store I knew I would be playing it as well. And it was free!

Think of A King’s Tale as an old school arcade game and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the game play involved. It was certainly a trip down memory lane for me, as the graphics and combat system continually reminded me of when I was a kid playing games at the local pizza restaurant.

One of my favorite things about A King’s Tale is that you’re basically playing through Noctis’ bedtime stories, as told by his father, King Regis (hence the King’s Tale, lol). There are some throwaway lines that pay homage to Princess Bride and another that brings up a lesser known Astral, Carbuncle, who I think is the cutest thing to ever exist.

For the most part, earning trophies in A King’s Tale was a straightforward task, until I got to the last two I was missing…

To earn Combo King, you have to do all of the combos in one level. This trophy was difficult for me to earn, mainly because I kept forgetting what attacks I had already done and which ones still needed to be completed.

Sweet Dreams is truly an Ultra Rare trophy, with only 1.3% of players having earned it. The most difficult thing for me, as I worked on this trophy, was remembering to count how many enemies I had cast magic on, lol.

I enjoyed the story in A King’s Tale, even when it got a little silly… but you have to remember that this is a bedtime story being told to a child. Wouldn’t want to give Prince Noctis nightmares now, would we?

Anywhos, for a free game, you’ll get loads of enjoyment out of this title, especially if you like arcade or retro gaming.

Stats (for nerds)

Title: A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Action
Platform: PS4
Rating: ★★★★☆
Trophy difficulty: Difficult

movie review · review

Movie Review | Doom: Annihilation

Fair warning: I gave up on this review about halfway through. What can I say? I suffered through the movie, couldn’t manage to get through writing a cohesive review.

Follows a group of UAC Marines as they respond to a distress call from a top secret scientific base on Phobos, a Martian moon, only to discover it’s been overrun by demons who threaten to create Hell on Earth.

I freely admit that I enjoy nothing more than sitting down and watching a truly horrible sci-fi movie at the end of a long workday, but even I have standards when it comes to what constitutes “bad sci-fi.”

Doom: Annihilation absolutely does not fit the bill.

From the very first moment that we see our main character, one disgraced Lieutenant Joan Dark (and yes, that’s a play on Joan of Arc), she is entirely unbelievable. This is not a reflection on actor, Amy Manson, as the acting in this film was surprisingly good without being over-the-top cheesy.

However, while I don’t mind the decision to have a female lead in a science fiction / action movie, if you want the audience to believe her, then you need to make her believable. And Joan Dark wasn’t convincing as a marine, friend, or even really as a person. There was no depth, nothing for the audience to relate to.

The death of her (very religious) mother made her lose her faith in God, but it’s mentioned so briefly that you forget the moment even happened (or that she had a mom in the first place). What should have been a poignant moment where Joan remembers her faith turns out to be a blink and you’ll miss it demons-are-afraid-of-crosses plot point.

For a movie about space marines, there was no point where I was able to believe that this woman was a soldier.

The CG work wasn’t the best, but for what I assume is a smaller budget film they weren’t terrible. The space scenes and the hellscape, in particular, were extremely well done and I thought that the tablet tech was also really cool. Again, there are moments where this movie does something right, they are just few and far between.

Joan waking up from crypto sleep, cryo sleep, crypto sleep… whatever.

Throughout, Joan is mean just to be mean. This here girl don’t need no man and certainly doesn’t have feelings for a guy she was in a four-month relationship with. Though, he very clearly is still in love with her and I can guarantee that will be a plot point in the future.

Lol, the “doomed moon.” Roll credits!

I’m sorry, but I feel like Hollywood has pretty much exhausted the “an entire unit has been given a shit assignment over the actions of one person” trope. This will surely be yet another future plot point.

In order to fight the enemy, you gotta stop fighting yourself

Captain Savage

Alright, y’all… at this point it’s just rambling thoughts. I’ve been looking at this post for two weeks now and can’t even make coherent sentences out of my thoughts from watching the film.

Feel free to let me know in the comments how horribly this post is written, lol.

Continue reading “Movie Review | Doom: Annihilation”
book challenge · book review · challenges · review · two book tuesday

Two Book Tuesday

This month’s post is pretty much themed around the O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon I’m participating in during the month of April. I’ve been enjoying going back to books and series’ that I remember liking in the past, as well as venturing way outside of my comfort genres and reading things like straight up romance *gasp*!

Okay, confession time… I haven’t had the chance to really get into this book. Shame on me, but I spent most of my free time sewing up a face mask to wear out-and-about.

Altered Heart follows Mick Matranga as he works to rid his city of the lowest scum out there. Along the way, he discovers his mate, one Rio Hardin, a human-turned-werewolf about the experience his first shift.

I’m pretty sure this is my first time reading Kate Steele, so here’s hoping it’s a good first introduction, lol.

By the title alone, The Perfect Wife by Gina Fields doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but it comes highly suggested by my mother and she has great taste in books, so we shall see.

My mom says that it’s just a “really great story without a lot of extra stuff to clog up the plot” and “one the nicest romances I have ever read”.

I’m looking forward to reading this, even though it’s kind of short, lol.

review · video game review

Video Game Review | Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

First things first, I absolutely loved Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Okay, now to review it…

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice follows a young Celtic woman as she travels to save her lover’s soul from the grasp of the Viking goddess, Hela, and release him to the Celt version of the afterlife.

What makes Hellblade so unique is that Senua suffers from mental illness. She experiences hallucinations, delusions, hears voices and more.

It is suggested that players use headphones so that they can hear the voices in Senua’s head. It is a suggestion that I fully support, as the experience is one you won’t soon forget.

There were times when I was playing that the voices just overwhelmed me. I couldn’t focus on the fight because the voices were too distracting to ignore. They were always with me. Every minute of the game, each step of Senua’s journey, the voices were there.

Towards the end of the game, I found myself relying on the voices, following their advice in battle and to solve puzzles. It began to feel as if they were a vital part of Senua’s mind and how she processed the world and of my journey with her.

Continue reading “Video Game Review | Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice”
blog · book review · review

Book Review | Tron by Brian Daley

Computer programmer Kevin Flynn is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer, where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out. During his adventure he meets Tron, a rebel program fighting the tyrannical Master Control Program.

At first it was just an interesting read and I felt like I was getting a little bit more of the world, but it was still just another movie novelization.

The writing style felt really weird and clunky, mainly because of it’s age (the book was written a couple of years before I was born), and that probably didn’t help matters much.  The flow of words felt outdated and strange to me, but I continued to read because I’m a huge TRON fan.

I’m actually really glad that I kept going, because even though I felt like I had gone back in time writing wise, the story gets REALLY good.  Right around the time that Tron meets up with Yori, the story picks up pace and doesn’t slow down until the very last sentence.

I enjoyed the extra details about Tron’s fights with the Memory Guard on the solar sailor and the way the author described Flynn saving Yori’s life on Sark’s Carrier had me both worried and relieved that Yori would be alright and wondering why Flynn couldn’t have figured his powers out in time to save RAM (I love RAM) *cries*

So, in conclusion:  At times, I felt like I’d traveled back in time and was reading something from the dark ages, BUT, even having to deal with an outdated style of writing, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book.  It gives the reader a sneak peak into everything we all know was going on in the background, but that they just couldn’t fit into the movie.

Audience: I think that fans of science fiction might also enjoy this book, but it’s a definite must-read if you are a fan of either of the Tron movies.

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Library ILL
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

blog · review · video game review

Video Game Review | ABZÛ

From the moment you find the Diver floating in this vast blue ocean, it’s hard to set the controller down. Not only because of the mesmerizing visuals and amazing score, but by the feeling of being something so tiny in a world so big.

Throughout the game, I repeatedly found myself getting distracted by the sheer scope of what I was experiencing. Which is not to say that ABZÛ is a very long game, because it’s not. I think, from beginning to end, it can be completed in about an hour and a half.

But that doesn’t matter because ABZÛ isn’t a game you play just to win, it’s really one that it’s meant to be explored and Giant Squid made the exploration so very enjoyable!

The sea is a desert of waves,
A wilderness of water.”

Langston Hughes

I really loved being able to see and interact with different kinds of sea life, from itty bitty anchovies to enormous blue whales and giant squid! You can even hitch a ride on the larger sea creatures and explore the ocean from their point of view. As someone who grew up watching Flipper and Free Willy, the idea of riding a dolphin or a whale or even a Great White shark is just magical.

The main objective in ABZÛ is to revive underwater ‘temples’ and bring life back to the ocean. You accomplish this by finding clues, solving puzzles, and unlocking new parts of this massive underwater world.

One of the things I really appreciated is that as you swim up to these temples you can see a clear delineation between the layer of water you’re in and another that is deeper and much more ominous. Our oceans have layers similar to this, where the further down you go the different, darker layers you encounter. You must swim into the temple in order to access this deeper layer of the ocean and be able to continue on your adventure.

Along the way, you’ll activate hidden pools of fish and release new and interesting species into the waters around you. You’ll find creatures such as the…


Possibly my favorite part of the game was finding the meditation statues in each level. These statues allow you to ‘meditate’ and while doing so, you follow different creatures around you as they swim, eat, and communicate with each other. It was so peaceful to have the soothing music and a serene underwater ballet playing on the screen… I could just sit there and watch it for hours.

The sound design for ABZÛ is really great, as well. It manages to somehow feel like you’re underwater without being suffocating (no pun intended), rather it’s like being wrapped up in a really thick, warm blanket and just enjoying being a blanket-burrito. If I could wrap myself up in ABZÛ all day long, then believe me when I say that I would!

These last few weeks and months have been stressful in any number of ways and it was such a relief to find a game that let me forget the real world for just a moment. ABZÛ pulls you right in, with it’s amazing music and scenery, and if you’re willing to just keep swimming, you might lose at least a few hours to it.

Now, I am a huge fan of Indie games, but there have only been a couple that have actual re-play-ability. ABZÛ definitely makes the list, as I’ve played it now three times through (with another play-through planned for live-streaming on my Twitch page). I feel like the game is more than worth the $19.99 PlayStation Store price tag.

Like Among the Sleep and Unravel, I think that ABZÛ is a game that players can return to over and over again and still be able to experience the wonder and enjoyment of it.

As for trophies, the most difficult trophy in the game was Collector. If the game wasn’t so enjoyable, I’m sure I would have gotten frustrated many times over as I searched for all of the very well-hidden seashells. 😛

Ultra Rare 2.6%
Add all secret shells to your collection.

With a total of twelve trophies in all, there’s a little bit of a challenge required to hunt down all of the seashells, hidden pools, and meditations spots. However, if you’re looking to earn a (fairly) easy platinum, you won’t find it in ABZÛ.

I wish I knew what the criteria was to get a platinum in a game, because I feel like there should be one for a game like this.

Three of the trophies require the player to both pay attention AND to explore beyond the main objective. It was suitably difficult to find all of the trophy requirements while the game remained fun and getting to 100% entirely doable.

Title: ABZÛ
Developer: Giant Squid
Genre: Adventure
Platform: PS4
Rating: ★★★★★
Trophy difficulty: Medium